Servings: 4 servings
5 ounces Israeli toasted couscous (see tips), cooked
6 fresh oysters
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, 1 finely minced, 1 whole
1 Persian cucumber, finely diced
3 ounces marinated artichokes, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup pickled cocktail onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fried shallots, pre-cooked
¼ cup Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
4 wild cherries in syrup (see tips)
1 cup wild cherry red pepper sauce (recipe follows)
¼ cup crème fraîche (or sour cream), whisked
For the honey lemon vinaigrette: Use a sealable container (like a mustard jar previously washed with hot soapy water). In this order, combine the honey, mustard, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and coriander in the container. Seal the container and shake until emulsified. Add the fried shallots. Mix well. Set aside.
Cooking Israeli couscous: Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the couscous, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the grains for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and continue cooking for an additional 5-8 minutes. Keep stirring every now and then so it doesn't stick to the bottom. When the couscous is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), drain it. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Mix well. Once it's completely cooled, add 3 tablespoons honey lemon vinaigrette.
Marinating the oysters: Ask your fishmonger to prep the oysters. Drizzle with lemon juice. Season with ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Let marinate until the rest of the Israeli couscous is ready to be plated.
For the oyster Israeli couscous salad: Combine the Israeli couscous, capers, onions, shallots, finely chopped artichokes (reserve 3 tablespoons for garnish), cucumber, dill, salt and white pepper. Mix well. Lastly add the coarsely chopped oysters.
On an individual serving plate, place a 2¾" metal circle cutter. Fill with the oyster Israeli couscous salad. Make sure pieces of oyster are visible. Cover with a halved wild cherry and fresh dill.
Place 4 smal mounds of chopped marinated artichokes at 4 corners of the serving plate. Pour the cherry red pepper sauce into a plastic squeeze bottle. Drizzle with the rest of the honey lemon vinaigrette.
The key to a good Iraeli couscous salad is to have a homogeneous mixture. All the ingredients should be the same size. I cut everything into ½-inch pieces.
I buy wild cherries in syrup at a local store, the Milk Pail in Mountain View.
For the cherry red pepper sauce: In a blender, combine 3 tablespoons wild cherries (pitted) in syrup, 3 tablespoons walnuts, 3 tablespoons canned chickpeas, 1 roasted red bell pepper, 1 slice toasted brioche, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth (you could add a few tablespoons of water for easy flow). Slowly add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and pulse until you have a thick consistency. Check seasoning with salt.