Pearl Couscous with Grilled Tofu and Red Peppers

by Jen on January 2, 2013

Happy New Year, dear readers! Wishing you all the best in 2013!

It just seems like yesterday when I gave birth to my third child in January 2012. That was a year ago! Then, on February 27, 2012, I hit ‘publish’ on my first ever post for this blog, after cutting my teeth as a travel blogger for 4 years before that. That said, I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life to be able to provide for my children; to be able to indulge in something I love (travel, food and cooking); and to have amazing family, friends, and followers to keep me going! Truly, it’s such a blessing. I never thought my life – which do have its ups and downs – would be filled with such instinctive, profound, and abiding love. I may dream a lot about what “coulda, shoulda, woulda,” but – let me tell you – I am pretty darn happy that I do NOT live in a place where birds only sing songs of war, starvation, and death, or where shadows breed fear and menace. For that, I am indeed thankful. But, on to something lighter…

At first, I thought of doing a “best of” list, but decided that, perhaps, I will save that for another time. I’m sure other food bloggers are doing their very own year-end round-ups that are bigger and better than mine. For now, I will leave that idea alone.

So, I’m starting the year in a simple way. Simple – I like that. I’m not a professionally trained chef nor do I immerse in blogging full-time. I’m merely a working mom with 3 kids, who happens to love sharing her passion for food, cooking, and photography. I believe my readers are not professional chefs either, but that they share the same passions as me. I get the sense that my friends and readers want recipes that are simple but creative enough to turn family meals into special ones, without spending a fortune. Hopefully, my posts invoke inspiration – particularly in travel and culture – that can be parlayed into creations in the kitchen.

This Pearl Couscous with Grilled Tofu and Red Peppers is a good vegetarian meal to start the year with. It’s healthy and pretty simple to make. The tangy and umami-filled tomato sauce that bathes the pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous) is the perfect counterpoint to the smoky sweetness of grilled red peppers. The chewy texture of grilled tofu is the perfect vehicle for herby basil pesto (I have a recipe here). All together, it presents a cohesive dish that’s well-balanced enough for me to stay satiated long after I jammed the last scoop in my mouth.

This is the kind of dish I want to keep making: healthy and restaurant-worthy but simple enough to replicate at home. Let me tell you, I’ve never been so excited about a vegetarian dish before (pat on the back pour moi). I urge you to give this a try. I will stand by what I said: this is a delicious, well-balanced dish that I highly recommend.


5.0 from 7 reviews
Pearl Couscous with Grilled Tofu and Red Peppers
Recipe Type: Main Course, Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A delicious vegetarian meal. Portions can be doubled easily for more servings.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • a knob of butter (optional)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce, such as Marinara, homemade or store-bought*
  • one block of firm tofu, preferably organic or non-GMO, drained and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • olive oil for brushing
  • basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
Instructions
  1. Heat water in a heavy sauce pan or small pot. When the water comes to a boil, add salt, then the pearl couscous and butter (if using). Boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package.
  2. In another pot, heat some tomato sauce. It can be homemade or store-bought. To make easy tomato sauce, see Note below.
  3. Drain the tofu block and dry with paper towels. This can be done the day before and stored in a container in the refrigerator. Cut the tofu in ½-inch thick slices.
  4. Cut the red bell pepper, remove the stem and seeds, and slice in desired portions.
  5. Heat a cast-iron grill pan on medium with a little bit of oil. When hot, brush the tofu sliced with a bit of oil and place on grill. Make sure not to touch or lift the tofu so as to make clean grill marks. Cook for at least 1 minute on one side, then flip to the other side and cook for another minute.
  6. Do the same with the red bell peppers. Brush with a little bit of oil and cook on grill until char marks form, about 2 to 4 minutes, or until soft.
  7. Assemble together in a plate and top with some basil pesto.
Notes
To make easy tomato sauce, heat a heavy bottomed pan with some olive oil, sauté minced garlic and onion. Add roughly chopped carrots, celery, and leeks for 1 to 2 minutes. Add a splash of white wine and cook for about 1 minute. Add fresh or canned tomatoes and stir until soft, about 15 to 30 minutes. If using fresh tomatoes, add a tablespoon of tomato paste and a splash of water. Then strain to remove the aromatics.

 

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

The Café Sucré Farine January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am

Jen, you make healthy look incredibly delicious! This is so pretty and colorful!

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Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet January 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

I am so glad we found each others blogs this year. It was so fun to follow you and see all the deliciousness you shared! Gorgeous! xoxo

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Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) January 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I never knew healthy dishes could look so irresistible! Wow, that looks so delish. I might have to get on the health train after all.

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The Kitchen Boudoir January 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Looks like we’re blog birthday buddies by a month – I started my blog January 22 of last year! I am so happy that you write this blog – I look forward to drooling over the pictures and am often inspired to get into the kitchen as a result. Here’s to another year of sharing delicious things!

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Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers January 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Happy New Year Jen! Indeed, we are lucky to be in places where we feel safe along with out families. Cheers!

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Valerie January 2, 2013 at 5:53 pm

You deserve a huge pat on the back- these photos are breathtaking! Who knew tofu could look so fierce?
Happy New Year, Jen!! So glad we “met” last year. :D

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Averie @ Averie Cooks January 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Im totally in love with this post. First, the recipe. Killer.

Next let’s talk photography – the grill marks on the tofu against the wood grains; the floral pattern of the plate and napkin, the pop of color that’s injected – I mean I want to bottle this post. Is that wood real or is it some type of faux surface? I would assume real but just curious. I want it! Congrats on your amazing 1 year of blogging and doing it with 3 kids! WOW! I just have 1 and feel stretched!

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Joanna @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats January 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Happy New Year Jen! Need I say more? Hehehe.. I love this light salad and those grilled marks on the tofu is just perfect. I got to start heading back to the kitchen and bake some more.. Love your props too, wish I could find pretty looking plates here. Maybe I haven’t been shopping around enough? Oh well.. I can’t wait to see what will you be enticing me with next. ♥ Jo

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suzanne Perazzini January 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I think that touch of pesto would lift this dish to a new level. The tofu looks just like slices of mozarella. Roasted peppers are a favourite of mine.

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Yelena January 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I am touched by your words, I feel absolutely the same. I am very thankful where I am. I hope you have a very creative year and I wish you the best. I love your photography and I am happy we become friends.

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Who says healthy eating is boring? Love this dish, the colors are so vibrant and I don’t think I’d miss the meat at all!

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Eha January 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Fantastic recipe! I do love looking at, reading and oft trying different, complex-flavoured, beautifully plated dishes! Of course!! But this is the kind of food I eat daily – food which is simple to cook, fresh, healthy, colourful and fun! Love tofu, do something similar, but will follow your recipe exactly: and probably substitute it for my ‘old’ way :) !

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Mom-Friday January 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Happy new year! Cheers to good health this year!
The dish looks lovely, and I’ve never tried cooking couscous before. We’re cutting back on tofu and legumes though, since we’ve been plagued with (minor) gout attacks for months now.

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Raymund January 3, 2013 at 4:05 am

I am always intrigued with pearl couscous, never tried them only the normal ones. This urges to buy some this weekend

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Suzanne January 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

Jen your dish looks delicious and the pesto with the tofu is perfect. The plate you chose to present it in is so vibrant that is beckons us to try it. Happy New Year to you and your family.

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Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts January 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Can’t believe you have only been doing this since Feb! You need to do a photography series, your pictures and styling is always gorgeous!

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Jen @ Savory Simple January 3, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I have been on a tofu kick recently so this looks extra delicious!

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Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} January 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Jen – you do an AMAZING job on your blog and always look forward to your posts (and photography)! This dish looks and sounds incredibly tasty – anything with pesto is a winner in my book! Happy New Year!!

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amy @ fearless homemaker January 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

I love this meal! Pearl couscous is one of my favorite things, + I love tofu, so I know I’d love this. Happy New Year, + keep up the great work on your blog! =)

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Jean | Lemons and Anchovies January 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

What a pretty, healthy dish! Perfect for the new year–or anytime!

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Magic of Spice January 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Happy New Year Jen! Wow, only a year…I would never have guessed that. And I am quite sure you made this just for me, so I am going to have to pick up some couscous this weekend :)

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Sandra's Easy Cooking January 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm

You are one of very talented bloggers and I am so glad to know you even like this virtually. I wish you even more success in 2013.
Your dish is just incredible, looks flavorful and tasty in every possible way Jen! Ever since I started following you I can’t say that even one dish that you posted didn’t made me drool….they are all perfect, colorful and among all sound amazingly delicious just like this one! Have a wonderful weekend!!!xo

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Nami | Just One Cookbook January 5, 2013 at 3:20 am

Happy New Year Jen! Love couscous and the grilled mark on tofu looks very pretty!!

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MizzJ January 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm

This look so yummy! I’ve been getting more into making vegetarian meals lately and this one looks simple and delicious. Do you have any tips for how to make this if one doesn’t have access to a grill?

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Tessa January 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I hope that you and your family had a wonderful New Year! I’ve got to try the pearl couscous… Looks delicious!

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Heather January 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Beautiful dish- I can’t believe your blog is only a year old!

Looking forward to another great year of reading and following along…..and oogling over your beautiful pictures :) xo

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Patty January 8, 2013 at 10:20 am

Jen-the colors in these photos are jumping off the screen- you make a plate of food look like a million bucks;-)
Bring on the healthy meals….;-)

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