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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Caramelized Zucchini and Carrot Israeli Couscous

There are those recipes you make that result in a stunningly beautiful masterpiece that you lovingly and proudly place in the center of your table, and everyone seated around Oooo's and Ahhhh's at the brilliant genius you clearly are in the kitchen. This is not one of those recipes. Don't get me wrong, the end result is amazingly tasty. It is not, however, beautiful. I mean, I think it is, but then I love all things veggie; others might not be as impressed with what looks like orange and green mush. The flavors, though! Wow. You could serve this on any pasta. We are partial to Israeli couscous, but any pasta would work, especially one with ruffles or holes to catch and carry the yummy veg mixture.

You could have this as a pasta+sauce side with some grilled chicken or fish. This would be an awesome veggie-only meal, too.

And the lunch you'll have the next day? Outstanding.

Caramelized Zucchini and Carrot Israeli Couscous

Yield: 5 servings

Grilled chicken, caramelized veggies and Israeli couscous


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tsp bouillon, optional

1.5 pounds zucchini, coarsely grated

1.5 pounds carrots, coarsely grated

5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1/2 cup basil leaves, stems reserved, plus more for serving

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 T olive oil

2 cups dry Israeli couscous

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 tsp bouillon, optional

salt and pepper

Parmesan, for serving


In a large (at least 12-inch) cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. When it’s heated, add bouillon, stir for a few seconds and then add the zucchini and carrots, garlic, the basil stems and half the basil leaves. Season with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and cook until pooling with liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid evaporates and the veggies start to sizzle, 7 to 10 minutes.

Continue to cook until the veggies are very soft, bright colored, and reduced to about 2 cups, another 20 to 25 minutes. When you see a build up of browned bits on the skillet, add a couple tablespoons of water and stir, scraping up the browned bits. Repeat anytime more browning occurs. If you see burning, deglaze with water and lower the heat. (Caramelized veggies can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week; it also freezes well.)

Meanwhile, heat a large pot, adding the olive oil. Once heated, add the bouillon, if using, and garlic. Heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the dry couscous, stirring to coat everything well with oil and seasoning. Season with a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook, stirring often until the pasta starts to brown and smells toasty. Slowly, add 4 1/2 cups of water (add slowly, because it will boil and bubble up initially). Continue cooking and stirring occasionally, until the pasta has absorbed all of the water, 15 - 25 minutes. Once the moisture is absorbed, cover, remove from heat, and allow to rest for 5 - 10 minutes. Stir well to loosen before serving.

If the zucchini is ready before the pasta, keep cooking it; the zucchini will only get better the longer it cooks.

When the pasta is cooked and removed from heat, remove the herb stems from the zucchini/carrot mixture. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining basil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve caramelized veggies scooped onto the pasta. Serve with more basil, Parmesan and black pepper. Enjoy!

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