Israeli Couscous Summer Salad
Okay, 4th of July is around the corner. Take 2: We are officially around the corner from July 4th.
My novio’s brother and sister-in-law were in from Beaverton, Oregon and we had time to hang out and eat and talk and just BE, together. Then we went to my sister’s house for a late July 4th barbeque celebration and an early Shabbat celebration. I always take a weekend respite from everyday life on Saturdays. And, time with dear dear friends (really family) on Friday and Saturday. Plus on Sunday, my mom, my Novio and I had a beautiful time at the Brentwood Farmers’ Market, followed by a late lunch using lots of the delicious finds at the market. Everyone pitched in… I set it up, Novio made the eggs, my mom sauteed the mushrooms. A wonderful relaxing late lunch (linner? lupper?) was had by all. Yes, I wanted to get this post out last week. But needed to make time for loved ones. Thank you. I knew you’d understand. Family first.
And now back to our scheduled program…
Want to make a side that’s a bit different than the mainstream pasta or macaroni salad? Try using Israeli couscous! These little round pasta balls are a really pleasing shape. My mom is currently having a love affair with both Israeli couscous and quinoa. Every time I make either one, she asks, “What’s the name of this again? I really like it!” My Novio tends to say the same thing…
You can increase the flavor quotient by toasting the couscous in a tablespoon of olive oil before adding the broth/water.
Our niece Kayanna is an awesome cook. Her knife skills alone are like performance art to me. When we had friends over for dinner and Kayanna was there helping, she looked up from mincing garlic while we stood around her, mesmerized and said, “I didn’t know this was so impressive… should I get a few more cloves?” “Please, please!” we all exclaimed in unison.
Kayanna spent a year in China plus is familiar with a wide range of cuisines from around the world. I am feeling her influence because chopped fresh mint is appearing in a lot of my dishes lately.
Over Memorial Day, my Novio and I went to a really cool event for food bloggers, called Camp Blogaway, in the mountains two hours from Los Angeles. It was so great to be part of the seminars & workshops and to meet the sponsors. But most of all, it was terrific meeting people with the same passion for all things food and getting to know one another. Thank you, food blogger Patti Londre, for being the visionary behind this event and making it a reality. We had a blast!
One unusual product was Finger Limes from Shanley Farms (I didn’t get strong-armed to post this -just thought it was a really cool product and would work well in this dish- it did).
If you find them in the specialty produce section of your market, go ahead and try them. They’re very fun. Cut them in half and squeeze out the little translucent balls that look like fish roe. Each little ball has a tiny squirt of lime juice waiting for you when you bite into it. A delightful surprise scattered through your salad. Admittedly, the finger limes I used were a bit off-color. But I wasn’t dissuaded. Don’t judge a book/lime by its cover.
The salad contains no dairy or mayonnaise, so it’s perfect for a picnic. But you certainly don’t have to wait for a picnic to try this winner of a salad. As always, experiment with your favorite veggies, raw or roasted, diced into this salad. It’s very flexible.
Israeli Couscous SaladIngredients: 1 c. Israeli couscous (regular or whole wheat) 1 1/2 c. broth/water (I use half broth and half water) (or, amount of liquid according to package directions) 1 c. roasted corn kernels (from roasted corn, grilled corn or frozen) 1 T. fresh mint, chopped 2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced 1 T. sun-dried tomato, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then roughly chopped zest of a small lemon 2 T. lemon juice 2 T. olive oil salt & pepper 4 finger limes, if available (if not, use juice of half a lime)
Toast the couscous in a saucepan with a spoon of hot oil on medium heat until it begins to get fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add liquid (a combo of broth and water), bring to a boil, lower heat to med-low and cook with lid askew until liquid is almost absorbed, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, soak sun-dried tomatoes in water. Zest and juice a lemon, and chop mint. If using finger limes, cut in half and squeeze out the pear-shaped pulp.Otherwise, juice half a lime.
If using fresh corn, either roast or grill one large ear. For roasting, lightly brush corn with olive oil and a bit of salt and roast in 375°F (190°C)) oven for 12-15 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
Toss warm couscous with lemon juice and oliv oil. Add all other ingredients, except mint and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Just before serving, toss again and add chopped mint. Now that looks summery!