In my parent’s home, I knew it by the homely Yiddish name “farfel.” In Israel, it’s called “p’titim.” Since having become famous in the foodie world, this pearly short-cut pasta is called Israeli couscous. That’s alright by me. As long as I have a bag of it in my pantry, I’m sure of having a quick-cooking backup to heft out a meal that would otherwise look skimpy.
But that’s not all Israeli couscous does. It’s pleasantly bland, so it soaks up any flavorings you add to it or cook it with. You can dress it up or dress it down, like any other pasta. Kids love it, naturally. But here it is in an entirely grown-up guise: stuffing for Portobello mushrooms. It’s still a quick trick. Takes about 10 minutes to cook the couscous, including the time it takes to chop up an onion and the cheese. Two minutes to mix the stuffing up. And about 15 minutes in a hot oven.
One mushroom makes a hefty first course, and two make a light main dish, served with a big salad.
Have plenty of olive oil at hand when you make these: it’s amazing how much oil mushrooms can soak up.