3.03.2014

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Basil Oil


I am one of those people who look at a picture or title in a cookbook, and then decide what the recipe is without actually reading it. I am the polar opposite of my mother, who will line up every last teaspoon of ingredients in little bowls before proceeding. The only time I ever really follow a recipe is with baking. 

I really shouldn’t do this, since I could be missing out on great recipes, but a lot of times I invent something pretty damn good. 

This is one of those recipes. I was flipping through a Mario Batali cookbook when I came upon a recipe for shrimp with white beans and mint oil.  I wanted to make it for dinner, but inspection of my pantry revealed I was missing some key ingredients, namely, the white beans and mint, as well as some rosemary called for in the recipe.  

So I subbed couscous, and oregano, and basil, and came up with this, a quick and easy weeknight dinner. (Seriously. I know it has three parts and that basil oil sounds like a project, but this whole thing comes together in about 20 minutes). 

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Basil Oil
12 jumbo shrimp
1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
1 ¾ cups chicken stock
4 cups arugula
Zest of one lemon
¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped

For the vinaigrette:
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp dried oregano
Splash red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your broiler to high.  

Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside. Adjust according to your taste, I like mine a bit on the tangy side, but if you don’t, just use more oil and less lemon. 

Combine couscous and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer 8-10 minutes until done. 

While couscous cooks, combine arugula, lemon zest, and olives in a serving bowl and line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange shrimp on it, drizzle with olive oil and salt. Broil for a minute or two on each side, until pink. 

When couscous is done, pile in the center of serving bowl. Drizzle couscous and arugula mix with lemon vinaigrette, then top with the broiled shrimp. Drizzle shrimp with basil oil, recipe follows.

Serve immediately.

To serve as a cold salad, refrigerate and cool everything separately so that arugula doesn’t wilt, and combine before serving.  


Basil Oil, from Epicurious:
½ cup basil leaves
¾ cup olive oil
Flaky sea salt

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. While it boils, fill a bowl with ice water. 

When boiling, drop your basil leaves in for 30 seconds or so, just until they turn bright green. Lift them out and drop immediately into ice water to stop the cooking, then drain and arrange on paper towels to dry. 

In a blender or food processor, combine basil and oil and puree. Remove to a small bowl, add sea salt to taste, and set aside. Will last 3 days in fridge. 

You can adapt this method for most leafy herbs- parsley, mint, tarragon, etc.

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