Saucy, and Israeli, Couscous

couscous salad

Fresh and green couscous salad

I got burned out on couscous a few years ago. It’s so squishy. And bland. But then I discovered Israeli, or pearl, couscous. I think the key here is to cook them like regular pasta and not follow the directions on the package. So boil up a pot of water, dump the couscous in and after seven minutes or so, strain into a colander. The couscous will be firm, separate little spheres of delicious. If you use a measured amount of liquid and let it all absorb, it’s almost bound to get sticky, which is not ideal for salad making.

I used

  • One package of Israeli (or pearl) couscous
  • Four loose cups of pea shoots, or any flavorful, delicate green (young spinach leaves, young dandelion greens, arugula, microgreens)
  • Two large, delicious tomatoes or a cup and a half of cherry tomatoes
  • A bunch of scallions
  • One fifteen-ounce can of chick peas (optional, if you want some protein)
  • A half cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from two lemons and some lemon zest
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar
  • A cup of packed basil leaves
  • Two garlic cloves (or more)
  • One jalapeno or cayenne (more or less, I like more)
  • Half a tablespoon of whole peppercorns
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Crumbled feta

Here’s what I did

Prepare the couscous as described above. After it’s drained, sprinkle with a little olive oil to coat and put in the fridge (or freezer if you’re short on time) to cool. Meanwhile, wash and pick over the greens (pea shoots are a recent discovery and my new favorite vegetable); slice the tomatoes; chop the scallions; rinse the chick peas if you’re using; then set all of these things aside. Put all of the remaining ingredients except the feta in a blender or food processor and puree until everything is emulsified. If you don’t like spicy things, go easy on the hot peppers, garlic and peppercorns at first and add more if you feel like it. Taste the sauce and if any flavor is too strong, add more more olive oil. If it tastes great but is too thick, add a little water. When the couscous are chilled, stir everything together. Stir the dressing in gradually, so you don’t overdo it. Sprinkle the feta over it before serving. You can eat it immediately, but I recommend letting it all marinate for a few hours or up to a day. It’s very wholesome, refreshing and flavorful.

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