This dish is now a staple on my buffet table for all fall Jewish holidays, since I like to incorporate a new fruit (pomegranate) or fall fruits (raisins, apples, pears in their dried form) for Rosh HaShanah and Sukkot. In reality, this traditional Moroccan dish is served for Hanukkah, but I can’t relegate it to just that one holiday. I have streamlined the preparation time by using dried fruit that is already chopped, and you can use any combination of dried fruit that you want. This is a very kid-friendly recipe and a great way to get those iron-packed fruits into their diet.
- Cook couscous in a large pot of boiling salted water for 7 to 10 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain, but do not rinse, and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Melt the butter or margarine in a 1-cup bowl in the microwave for 35 seconds. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the couscous to coat thoroughly.
- Add the dried fruit and roasted nuts.
- Mix the 3 drops of almond extract into the milk. Add just enough of the milk to the couscous to moisten it. Do not add too much or the mixture will be runny. Reserve excess milk in case the couscous is dry. Remoisten before you garnish.
- Pile the couscous into a mound or pyramid shape on a serving platter. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and garnish with Medjool date halves, pomegranate seeds, and/or apricot slivers.
- Israeli couscous is a large, milled ball of pasta approximately 1/8 inch in diameter.
- Coating couscous with butter or margarine prevents the mixture from clumping. However, it still holds together beautifully when mounded.
- Made with wheat berries, this dish is Greek koliva, and Sephardim serve this tooth-resembling grain to celebrate a baby’s first tooth.