Couscous salad

This is almost always in our fridge in summer. Quick and easy to make, customizable, delicious – what could be better for busy summer days? When you’ve had enough pasta salad and want something a little more exotic, this is a good one to try. Most stores that sell bulk foods carry instant couscous, or you can use a packaged seasoned mix with or without the seasoning packet. I prefer to add my own seasoning. Make roasted garlic ahead of time, and make a lot. It keeps for a month in the refrigerator. You’ll find all kinds of ways to liven up dishes with it — pasta, potatoes, eggs, dressings — and if you have a difficult time digesting raw garlic this is the best way to keep garlic in your life. It won’t upset your stomach.

Allergic to walnuts? Toast some sliced almonds, or try pistachios or toasted pepitas. Parsley is found in mid-eastern dishes like tabbouleh but chopped spinach could be substituted here. Don’t like olives? Leave them out, or pick them out of  your serving, but their slightly bitter taste is a good counterpoint to the sweet orange. No dried tomatoes? Try halved cherry tomatoes instead. No oranges in your pantry? Frozen orange juice concentrate can take its place. Preserve the crunchy texture of the toasted walnuts by serving them on the side instead of mixed into the salad.

– Joan, 29 June 2018

Couscous salad

  • 8-10 oz. instant couscous, cooked and cooled to room temperature
  • 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup black Kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 oz. dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 1/2 cup very finely minced parsley
  • 3-5 green onions, white and green parts chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic, or 2 raw cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of one orange, or 3-4 tablespoons undiluted orange juice concentrate
  • 8 oz. walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

To roast garlic:

Cut the tops off several heads of garlic, place close together in a heavy oven-proof pan (a cast iron fry pan works well) and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and a pan cover if possible. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes. The cloves should be very soft but not browned. Leave the cover on the pan until cooled, then squeeze the cloves out of their paper husks. Add the oil from the pan plus another couple of tablespoons and use a hand blender or processor to purèe the garlic. Season to taste with black pepper, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. Store in the refrigerator.

To make the salad:

Mix all ingredients except the couscous and walnuts in a non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour, then stir in cooled couscous. Serve walnuts separately to be added to individual servings as desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

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