Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Couscous Salad

How did you like Coconut Cake?

Well, it's Tuesday and this is the healthy recipe I promised you.

This salad is full of fresh veggies, chickpeas, and feta cheese.  It has just enough couscous to bind everything together.

It's super yummy.  Sometimes I make this at the beginning of the week and have a delicious lunch all week long!

It's a great excuse to eat a half a pound of feta cheese.

Start with the couscous because you can chop veggies while the couscous cooks.

Here's what I use:

And I cook it according to the package directions.  Except that I leave out the olive oil and substitute chicken stock for the water.  Stock adds a little more flavor.

Couscous is as close to non-cooking as you can get.  All you do is boil the stock, turn off the burner, stir in the couscous and cover it for five minutes.  Fluff it with a fork and it's ready.

So let's chop some veggies.

Start with a bell pepper.  I like red because I like the flavor and the color.  Reds are sweeter than greens.

Slice it into strips and then dice it into little pieces.

Now start on the onion.  You'll want a sweet onion like a Vidalia since it's going to be raw in the salad.  Some people are bothered by raw onions.  I'm not one of them.  Fortunately, my husband isn't either.  And neither are my kids.  Maybe raw-onion-tolerance is genetic?

Okay, now a cucumber.  You'll want an English cucumber.  These are also called Seedless, which is a misnomer in my opinion because they totally have seeds.  They're also called Hothouse cucumbers.  So many names for one simple vegetable.

Here it is:

Whatever name it goes by at your store, it does always have this plastic wrap on it.  So cut off the ends and then cut it in half and then split each half lengthwise.

See the seeds?  Told you they weren't seedless.

Now slice each fourth into about four slices.

And cube it up!

Very few things make me happier than slicing and dicing a fresh, crisp cucumber.  It ranks right up there with the joy I feel when Big Sister sleeps past 6:30 a.m.

So add the cucumber to the bowl.  I can't stand it any longer - I have to add the feta next.  Because it's the real reason I eat this salad.

Take an 8 ounce cube of feta cheese and chop it into little cubes. 

And then add some cracked pepper.  Freshly ground, please. 

Now let's add the chickpeas.  Or garbanzo beans.  They have two different names, too.  What is with the ingredients in this salad?  I had no idea it was so complicated.

Make sure you get rid of the yucky liquid that the beans are packed in.  Then rinse them well and drain them again before you dump them into the salad bowl.

Oh, look!  Our couscous is done.  Slice open two lemons.  We're going to flavor it while its hot.

Squeeze the lemon juice directly into the couscous.  The hot pasta will drink up the lemon juice and give it even more flavor.

Stir it up and add the couscous to the veggies.  Then slice some grape tomatoes in half and toss them in.  I used about half of one of these containers of tomatoes.

Now add some herbs.  Basil is best.  Normally basil grows wildly out of control in my yard, but I did not plant any this year.  It's a tragedy, I know.

So I had to use parsley from the grocery.  Parsley can't hold a candle to basil.  I agree.  But it's better than nothing.  If you, too, have to use parsley, just make sure it's Italian flat-leaf parsley.  Don't use the curly stuff.  It's not meant for human consumption.

Give it a big stir.  You won't believe how flavorful this salad is.  The veggies are so fresh and crisp, the feta is tangy and salty and creamy, the couscous is subtle out helps binds the ingredients together, and the lemon juice adds a surprising zip that you won't believe.  And don't be afraid of the raw onion.  It's so good.

Seriously, make this salad.  It's a great side dish to a piece of salmon.  Or it's a great lunch.  Or a light dinner with some fruit.

Couscous Salad

1 10 oz. box roasted garlic & olive oil flavored wheat couscous, prepared according to package directions using chicken stock instead of water (you'll need 1 1/4 cups stock)
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, sliced into strips and chopped into small pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
8 oz. block of feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 seedless cucumber, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well

Stir the lemon juice into the hot prepared couscous.  Add all of the chopped vegetables, pepper, parsley, feta, chickpeas and couscous to a large bowl and mix well.  Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.


BWF said...

Yes m'am. Love this!!! Makes me wish I was sailing on the Mediterranean with a bowl of this in my picnic basket.

But I'm shocked that there is no garlic in this. I'm in the same camp with you.... garlic makes everything better! :)

Elizabeth said...

I thought about putting raw garlic in it...but then I thought it might scare people away since it has raw onions too. So the roasted garlic-flavored couscous fills that role! But glad to know you're in the garlic camp with me! :)

Katie Pinkston said...

I feel like I should thank you for putting this recipe in my life. The first time I made it I think I ate the entire thing in 2 days by myself. Total yum.

EJ Chang said...

This is DELICIOUS! Even Ed loved it!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, that just makes me happy that you all liked this recipe! :)