07 April 2017

The salad that eats like a (light, springy) meal

I love grain salads; they travel well for not-sad desk lunches, and they make interesting sides to fish, tofu, or meat. This one has me finally using up that enormous tub of Israeli couscous I bought on a whim last winter (don't skip the toasting in the recipe below!), and it makes the most of early spring vegetables, if they're available in your area.



Israeli Couscous Salad

Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a light meal

For the couscous:
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2+1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Using a medium saucepan, heat couscous and oil over medium heat for about 6 minutes or until the grains are golden brown.

Add water and salt, stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove pan from heat and let stand, still covered for a few minutes. Next, grab a baking sheet. Spread the couscous in a single layer and cool. Set aside.

For the salad:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt and pepper
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for finishing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces or 4 cups of baby arugula spinach, or other tender greens, roughly chopped
1/2 cup largely diced cucumber
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add shallots, stir, cover and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Drain and roughly chop shallots. Set aside.

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, red pepper flakes, and salt in a large bowl. Add couscous, arugula, mint, cucumber, 1/4 cup feta, 1/4 cup almonds, and shallots. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a pretty bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of feta and almonds. Add a squeeze of lemon juice over the salad. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

**Pickle shallots before making couscous to save time. They'll keep for a few weeks in the fridge.