A few weeks back I found a really interesting recipe from Rachel Ray. I have an intense love/hate relationship with Ms. Ray. For years I trashed her and her way too chipper personality. I’ve heard that she never had proper training to cook and that she became a chef by working her way through various restaurants. I can’t decide whether I dislike her more or less because of that. Her sunny personality and corny catch phrases irritate me to the fullest, however I think that after a while, she kind of grew on me. I’ve watched her day time talk show, which aside from the awkward interviews and out-of-place segments, is mildly entertaining. I’ve also skimmed through her magazine and have found myself pretty enthralled by some of the features in it.

What it all boils down to though, is that you can’t deny that the woman has some pretty good recipes. She has interesting flavor combinations and almost always uses incredibly fresh ingredients. She does a lot of vegetarian friendly meals as well as good meat-packed hearty meals.  But I was totally impressed when I stumbled upon this really interesting and unique take on Israeli CousCous, my new favorite pantry staple.

CousCous with Swiss Chard, Raisins, and Feta
From Everyday with Rachel Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cups israeli couscous
one 14-ounce can vegetable broth
2/3 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper
1 bunch swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
one 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese

In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add half of the garlic and the couscous and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer until the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins; season with salt.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and the swiss chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the swiss chard leaves, chickpeas and 1/2 cup water, cover and cook, turning, until the chard is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Serve on the couscous and top with the feta.

Wow! I was so excited to make this dish, but I was waiting very patiently until we got some chard in our CSA. When we finally did I got to work. I ended up serving this as one of the side dishes at our Fourth of July barbecue as an option for my vegetarian friends, but also as a way to share some of our CSA produce with my friends. It went over pretty well, but there were plenty of left overs for me to enjoy throughout the remainder of the week. This is mostly meant to be a side dish, but I’ve been enjoying it cold as a way to cool off for dinner in all of this hot hot heat!

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