In the past year or so I have really been making progress in visiting new states and big U.S cities, starting with Arizona, then to NYC, over to San Francisco, down to Charleston, South Carolina, and finally, this past weekend to Nashville. Granted I spent all of about 2 hours in Nashville before heading an hour south for the wedding of my beautiful friend Kelly, but had a blast celebrating in a go-big or go-home southern style. I ate too much, I drank too much, I regret nothing.
I left my camera at home for this trip, sadly passing up the chance to document some really awesome eats (lot of biscuits included!) but did manage to hit up a few lunch and coffee spots that I would highly recommend.** So, after returning home yesterday, nursing a wicked hangover and eating a salad for dinner as if cancel out a weekend full of butter-laden and whiskey-induced damage, I decided a little casual cooking and something to attempt to wean me back into a normal food routine couldn’t hurt.
This recipe for Israeli couscous with ricotta and mint is a nice way to bring some comfort and freshness to what is now straight-up summer weather. After par-cooking some Israeli couscous, the rest comes together in one skillet. Bacon and onion get to know each other in the pan before joining forces with a hefty dose of white wine, chicken broth, peas, the pasta and fresh mint. What remains is something borderline soup-ish, a brothy pasta dish that gets several dollops of ricotta and a good drizzle of olive oil at the end. Coming together quite quickly, it makes for a great after work, recovery day dish.
**For a great cup of coffee check out the super-hipster Barista Parlor and then head to The Pharmacy Burger just down the road for burgers, beers, and housemade German sausages. And, if you have a car, I highly recommend a tour at the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, about an hour south of the city.
Israeli Couscous with Ricotta and Mint
Recipe from Bon Appetit
1¼ cups dry Israeli Couscous
2 Tbs olive oil, plus more for serving
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup dry white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
Whole milk ricotta, for serving
Salt and pepper
Cook the Israeli couscous in a large pot of salted boiling water for 6 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. The bacon should be crispy at this point. Add the wine, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the broth and the pasta and return to a simmer. Cook until thickened and the pasta is al dente, about 5-8 minutes more. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Add the peas and mint and cook for another 2 minutes, adding some of the reserved pasta water if it gets too thick.
Serve in a bowl with many dollops of ricotta, torn fresh mint leaves, olive oil, cracked black pepper, and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.