As a complement to my last post, I’d like to share one of my favorite salads that is just great for picnics, a cookout or a weeknight vegetarian dish. I first saw this couscous salad by chance on an episode of Paula Deen’s cooking show on the Food Network, and intrigued, I adapted it a bit to my taste…then a bit more. It’s one that comes together very quickly and lends itself to adaptation, so you may wish to try your own versions as well. Couscous is so versatile, which is one of the things I really love about it!
Regardless of whether you make this salad as I suggest, or play with it a bit, I think it’s one you’ll really enjoy. And I think you’ll agree, it’s a perfect salad for your outdoor adventures, or any time!
Spring-Summer Couscous Salad, with Variations
(Adapted from Paula Deen) 8 servings
1 cup golden couscous
1 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
10 oz. grape tomatoes, cut in half or quarters (about 2 cups total)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 cup Italian flat leaf parslely, chopped
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan with the 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the couscous, then turn off the heat and cover, allowing it to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer it to a large bowl to cool slightly.
Add the tomatoes, olives and parsley to the couscous and stir to combine. Add the feta and stir lightly to incorporate. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients to emulsify, then add the dressing to the salad and stir gently to incorporate.
Allow the salad to sit at room temp for an hour before serving, or place it in the fridge until ready to serve.
Cinnamon: Now I know this sounds weird, but it’s fantastic. Sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to the finished salad and stir it well to combine. This is the way we most often have eaten this salad.
Marjoram: Add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of minced fresh marjoram to the dressing, then stir it into the salad. Marjoram can be strong tasting to the uninitiated, so add it to your taste, and I’d not recommend using cinnamon with the marjoram. We had this last night and I now like it even better than the cinnamon, because it is so fresh and lively.
Greek: Certainly you could add about 1/2 cup of peeled, seeded, finely diced and patted dry cucumber to this salad, a little chopped red onion, and add 1 teaspoon or more to taste of minced fresh oregano and even a dash of minced fresh garlic if you like to the dressing, et voilà, Greek couscous salad. (Again, no cinnamon with this one, I’d say.)