Sassool Grocery Challenge: Pearled Couscous with Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Peppers, Olives & Marinated Feta

We were asked to participate in the Sassool Cary Grocery Challenge & were given a $25 gift card to shop for our ingredients, but all opinions are our own. 

We’re no strangers to Sassool. We live super close to this local Lebanese restaurant’s first location. We’ve eaten there for years, rotating through favorite after favorite on the always delicious menu. We’ve introduced friends & family to the Saleh family’s dishes & have overstuffed ourselves on warm pita & baklava around the table together. We even shop the North Raleigh location’s grocery section for French & Bulgarian feta, reasonably-priced spices, olive oil, tahini & plenty of snacks. So when Tabletop Media Group reached out to us to to introduce you to Sasool’s Cary location’s new grocery section & share a recipe using ingredients from it, our answer was an obvious, “YES.”

The Cary location itself is smaller & cozier than the North Raleigh location, but the staff is just as friendly, the menu just as satisfying & the grocery section just as tempting. We wandered around the shelves & refrigerated section seeing familiar bottles of orange blossom & rose water, jars of pickles & olives, stacked bags of rice, dried beans & other grains, plenty of pita, jugs of olive oil & a great selection of neatly-packed spices. If you’re not already shopping here, it’s time to start.

For this challenge, we wanted to create something new to us, but a dish that would easily be at home on the Sassool menu. We also wanted something that would include both feta & za’atar (a savory spice blend of thyme, ground sumac, sesame seeds & salt) as these are easily the two ingredients we purchase the most from Sassool.

We ended up adding pearled couscous, extra virgin olive oil, roasted red peppers & baroody olives to our purchase, too, which came together to create a satisfying dish that’s just as delicious warm as it is cold. We think it would be a great addition to the Sassool Cary menu & if Mounir, Sassool’s owner, thinks so too, you’ll be able to get a taste in the month of January. Until then, get these ingredients & get cooking!

PEARLED COUSCOUS WITH ROASTED GARLIC, ROASTED RED PEPPERS, OLIVES & MARINATED FETA
serves 6-8

FOR THE MARINATED FETA*
2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
8 oz. feta, cubed
1/2 tbs. za’atar
4-6 oz. olive oil

Add smashed garlic to the bottom of a resealable glass jar. Set aside. Toss feta with za’atar to evenly coat & add to the jar with the garlic. Pour enough olive oil over the top of the feta to completely cover. Seal jar & refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Let come to room temperature before serving.

FOR THE COUSCOUS
12 oz. dry pearled couscous
5 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 cup baroody olives, coarsely chopped (rinsed if couscous is salty)
1 cup roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup marinated feta, with oil
1 tsp. za’atar

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Lightly salt & cook couscous according to package instructions. While the couscous cooks, smash the roasted garlic into a paste using the flat side of a chef’s knife.

Drain couscous & check the salt of both the couscous & marinated feta. If they are salty enough for your preferences, rinse the olives. Return the couscous to the pot over low heat & add the garlic paste, chopped olives & sliced peppers. Stir to combine. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the feta into the pot with the rest of the ingredients, setting the remaining oil aside. Season with za’atar & stir to combine. If the dish needs more liquid, add the reserved feta oil one tablespoon at a time until all the ingredients are thoroughly coated. Serve warm or slightly chilled.

*Marinated feta is just as delicious on crackers & toast as it is in this dish. Don’t be afraid to make a double batch.

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