There are a few people whose recipes are a certainty for me. David Lebovitz is one of them. I’ve been writing on this site for more than 10 years, and have been following his site for almost as long. Back when you could almost count the people blogging about food as a few dozen, the world felt really small, and the fact that David was writing a few hours away from me in Paris made it almost feel like we were neighbors.
If you don’t know David (where have you been?), he’s a trained chef and worked for years in restaurants, among them Chez Panisse. On his site, he writes about his travels and always about food, glorious food. Some of the recipes on his site have become favorites of mine.
His many cookbooks, however, are another experience completely. With his latest cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, he’s letting you into his kitchen in Paris where he creates all his masterpieces. You get a sense of what it might be like to have your own Paris kitchen through the photos which showcase his space, and through the stories he shares about living in France. When I first visited Paris years ago, it was one of the places I hoped was overhyped, and I was secretly delighted when it wasn’t. I fell for Paris, too.
Paging through this book, I earmarked so many recipes to try, and I’m slowly making my way through them. I’m going to share two which have easily integrated themselves into heavy rotation in my kitchen recently. This cous cous is something I’ve made several times since I first tried it, and sometimes it’s the star of the meal, and sometimes it’s a side dish. It’s always impressive, and delicious, and it only takes a few minutes to put it together, so it’s something you can do last-minute. With the different variations I’ve tried (I include notes about the original below as well) you can easily make it your own.
I was very surprised to find my name and website amongst the pages of My Paris Kitchen, on a recipe for buckwheat polenta, harking back to when David visited me a few years ago and we ate polenta. Seeing that made me feel like the world was very small once again. On that trip David brought me some frozen butter as a gift. It wasn’t just any butter. It was beurre aux cristaux de sel de mer de Noirmoutier — butter with salt crystals from Noirmoutier island.
Since then, I’ve been hooked on that butter, and have smuggled it to family and friends (and for myself) any chance I can. It’s fitting then that I used that special beurre in this recipe.
Bravo, David…and grazie. :)
Lemon-Pistachio Israeli Cous Cous from My Paris Kitchen
Notes: I adapted this recipe from My Paris Kitchen, noted by the * after ingredients. David’s original recipe calls for a preserved lemon. I tried it both ways and prefer the fresh lemon juice, but be sure to try it with a preserved lemon and make your own decision. This is an incredibly adaptable recipe and I’ve made it in many variations, one in particular I like below as I think the dates & the butter give it an incredible flavor set off by the lemon. Make sure to use the best quality butter you can find. If you can’t find Israeli cous cous, Sardinian fregola (pictured) works as well. I like serving this dish warm, but it’s equally enjoyable the next day — I wouldn’t recommend heating it, serve cold or room temperature.
Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon*
1/2 cup (30g) cilantro*
2 Tablespoons salted* butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup diced Medjool dates*
1/2 cup (65g) salted* pistachios, coarsely chopped
Sea salt to taste*
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups Israeli cous cous or Sardinian fregola
Freshly ground pepper
*Original recipe calls for juice & rind from one preserved lemon, flat-leafed parsley, salted or unsalted butter, dried fruit including cherries, cranberries, apricots, prunes or raisins; unsalted pistachios, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. You can also use a Moroccan spice mix instead of cinnamon.
- Add all the ingredients, except the salt & pepper and the cous cous, to a large bowl.
- Boil the cous cous or fregola in salted water according to the package directions.
- Add the still-warm cous cous to the ingredients and stir until the butter is fully melted and all the ingredients are mixed well. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of My Paris Kitchen from the publisher, but I’ve bought and gifted my own copies since, and if you look in my archives, I’m a big fan of David’s. I’m a fan girl. Some links above are affiliate links. Your price won’t change but I’ll get a small percentage —thanks for supporting this site!