Savory Israeli Couscous Salad

Many times, couscous has a combination of both salty and sweet. For this particular recipe, I wanted something that erred on the side of savory, and got all of its sweetness from balsamic, red bell pepper, and tomato. As a result, this is a quick, savory, wonderful salad that works as both a side-dish and as an entree.

I did not add additional salt to this recipe (the last ingredient, below). Instead, the dressing stood up with all of the salt in the bullion cube that I used to flavor the couscous. If you are using a no-salt bullion, you may want to add salt, at the end. Always taste the salad before adding salt.

This recipe is homage to two friends and a favorite restaurant: my friend Nikki, who reminded me of grain salad, today, by sharing this incredible Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad recipe (thank you NYT); Donika, who has mastered the sweet-savory couscous salad; and Silly Goose, the wonderful restaurant that I first went to with Donika, to sample its couscous and goose juice. Yay, Nashville-Philly connection!

Savory Israeli Couscous Salad

2015-05-30 15.46.20Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 (entree); 4 (side-dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 vegetable bullion
  • 3 c water
  • 1 medium roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 pitted olives, sliced (I used garlic-stuffed, but any will do)
  • 1 T balsamic dressing
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Toast the couscous on the stovetop by adding to a hot saucepan, the olive oil and couscous.
  2. Stir and coat the couscous with oil, and continue to toast on medium-high heat, until golden in color (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the bullion and stir.
  4. Then, turn up the heat to high, add the water, cover, and bring the couscous to a boil.
  5. When the couscous boils, uncover and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes. You want your couscous a little on the less-than-al-dente side, because you will not rinse it in cool water (to preserve the flavor that you added with the bullion). Instead, cook it most of the way, and then drain all the excess water.
  6. Spread the couscous in a wide and shallow bowl (to encourage cooling) and add the additional ingredients.
  7. Toss the entire mixture and serve.
  8. This is best at room temperature, but can also stand up to some refrigeration.

Note, if making this ahead of time: If you are going to store it, leave off the balsamic dressing and additional balsamic vinegar, and add when you are serving. Otherwise, the spinach will wilt and the couscous will absorb all of the vinegar and oil (making your salad dry).

Carrot Lentil Salad

Carrots and LentilsWell, I said that I was going to do a series on salads, and I completely dropped the ball on that. So, now, post-graduation festivities, and as a means of procrastinating on efforts for my upcoming move… salads it is!

I’ll begin with the one I actually made today! I originally posted this in August, of last year. It is one of my favorite go-to recipes, especially when I buy a gang of carrots for something else. This time, I enlisted my step-brother to over-buy carrots for the cold sesame noodles that I made for my graduation get together. Oops, but one that converts into one of the most satisfying salads that I make, regularly.

You can make this way ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, undressed. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to a single portion, which made this super sweet but still delicious! I also recommend squeezing about 1/2 a lemon or so on it (you may want to serve it with lemon wedges, so folks can decide for themselves). The very earthy worlds of carrot and lentils feel lifted, just a tad, with the acid. During winter, I suggest leaving the acid off, for something far more comforting.

As I said in my original post: All of the flavor comes from the lentils, and the salad is dressed simply, with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Do not dress until you are ready to serve and eat, as the salad will simply absorb the oil and become really dry (I do add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl I carry to work for lunch–but it is certainly better when it is freshly dressed).

Ingredients:

  • 1 c dry whole red lentils
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 t whole fennel seed
  • 1/2 t whole coriander
  • 1/2 t whole cumin
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1 unsalted veggie bullion
  • 3-4 large carrots, grated
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste
  • additional dressing, if desired: 1-1/2 t balsamic vinegar or the juice of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a mortar, add the cumin and coriander, and crack with a pestle (not a fine grind, but until coriander is in 1/2 pieces or so)
  2. Add to a saucepan: the lentils, wine, water, bay, fennel, coriander, cumin, pepper, and bullion.
  3. Cover and bring the saucepan to a soft boil.  Once boiling, uncover the pan and turn the heat down to medium, and cook lentils until tender but not falling apart (20-30 minutes).
  4. Drain the lentils (if needed), and pull the bay leaf.  Cool lentils to at least room temperature.
  5. Combine the carrots and lentils.  Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.  Serve.

Carrot Lentil Salad

Carrots and LentilsI’ve been meaning to share this recipe all summer long.  I have kept a large bowl of the base mixture (the carrots and lentils) in my fridge on and off for the last few months, making it easy for me grab it as a quick and simple meal when I’m not feeling like cooking.  It is good as an entree or a side dish.

Now it seems that it will be my go-to for late summer. It packs well and is great cold from the fridge or at room temperature.  It has a subtle sweetness that contrasts with a generous combination of floral and warm spices.

All of the flavor comes from the lentils, and the salad is dressed simply, with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Do not dress until you are ready to serve and eat, as the salad will simply absorb the oil and become really dry (I do add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl I carry to work for lunch–but it is certainly better when it is freshly dressed).

Ingredients:

  • 1 c dry whole red lentils
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 t whole fennel seed
  • 1/2 t whole coriander
  • 1/2 t whole cumin
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1 unsalted veggie bullion
  • 3-4 large carrots, grated
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste

Directions:

  1. In a mortar, add the cumin and coriander, and crack with a pestel (not a fine grind, but until coriander is in 1/2 pieces)
  2. Add to a saucepan: the lentils, wine, water, bay, fennel, coriander, cumin, pepper, and bullion.
  3. Cover and bring the saucepan to a soft boil.  Once boiling, uncover the pan and turn the heat down to medium, and cook lentils until tender but not falling apart (20-30 minutes).
  4. Drain the lentils (if needed), and pull the bay leaf.  Cool lentils to at least room temperature.
  5. Combine the carrots and lentils.  Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.  Serve.

Easy Marinaded Portobello Mushrooms

2014-08-22 10.37.49So, recently I saw some amazing portobellos in the grocery store.  To be clear, I love mushrooms, but I often forget about these behemoth examples.  I think of portobellos as a production.  More than that, they were super popular a few years ago, and I think I’ve just forgotten about them.  In actuality, they are not a production, and they are as delicious as they were a few years ago.  This was one of the easiest recipes that I’ve done in a long time.  The resulting mushrooms I’ve used as topping on salad, pasta, and as the entree for a meal with other sides.  

They are satisfying and simple.  And, there is no doubt, at all, that if I had a usable grill, that is exactly where they would have been cooked.  So, for those of you still living the summer life (or considering Memorial Day cookout ideas–as they make amazing sandwiches, as well), this is the recipe for you.  They are a great meat substitute for those not looking for processed analogs.  

You can cook down the marinade with the “pan drippings” from your cooked mushrooms for a thicker and less acidic sauce.  I recommend thinly slicing these ‘shrooms, adding grilled or sautéed onions to them, and placing the mix on a sub roll with a little of the marinade as dressing.  

Ingredients:

  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup Braggs aminos or tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1T agave nectar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 clove garlic, pounded (crushed)
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used tarragon and thyme)
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper

2014-08-22 10.48.23Directions:

  1. Prepare the mushrooms by brushing them clean and then taking off the stems and scraping the “gills” (the latter is a matter of choice–it is not necessary, but it makes for less browning of dishes, such as creamy pastas, etc.)
  2. In a jar, combine the Braggs, vinegar, oil, agave, and garlic.  Shake the marinade until it is fully incorporated.
  3. Place mushrooms in a covered dish or in a large freezer bag, pour in the marinade.
  4. Marinade the mushrooms for 30 minutes and up to 3 hours at room temperature, turning the mushrooms at least once (more is better).  If you are preparing this a day before, I suggest that you put the marinading mushrooms in the fridge, also turning them every now and again.  The longer you marinade, the more acute the flavor.  Be careful not to over-soak, as you still want some mushroomy flavor.  I suggest stopping at about 6 hours, if you can… you can remove the bulk of the marinade and keep the mushrooms in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

To cook mushrooms in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine ground pepper and fresh herbs.
  3. Parchment line a large and shallow baking dish (I use a sheet pan).
  4. Place mushrooms bottom side up, sprinkle with 1/2 of the pepper/herb mix.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn mushrooms over, sprinkle with the remaining pepper/herb mix.
  7. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve.

 

Festive Root Veggie Hash created for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOThis type of recipe is all the rage in Nashville, right now.  With the abundance of root veggies during this time of the year, and the incredible nutritional value of these delicious, colorful tubers and such, they are the perfect addition to your next food gathering–one like the amazing Virtual Vegan Potluck, for which I finally created and posted this recipe, or one in person!

Pick your favorite root vegetables.  I have listed, for the recipe, my favorite combination for this dish.  If you are missing carrots, for instance, add those.  Adjust the spices to vvp_fiw_badge2 (1)your own taste.  If you are looking for a sweeter hash, consider things like ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.  I prefer to make this with the fresh rosemary from my garden (which will last throughout the winter, here), a mix of cracked peppers (black/red/green/white), salt, and a little cayenne.

Also, consider adding a slice of the best marinaded baked tofu (ever!) or a vegan poached egg on top of the hash when serving.  The addition makes this a perfect 1-bowl meal.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Festive Root Veggie Hash

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 45 min
Total time: About 1 hour 10 min
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 to 3-1/2 pounds root vegetables: beet, sweet potato, celery root, parsnip, turnips and/or potatoes
  • 2 medium onions, peeled
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil (softened), or grapeseed oil
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary, separated
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven too 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare the root vegetables.  Keep the beet separate from the rest of your veggies (even when roasting), so that they don’t make everything beet colored.  Peel beet and celery root. Cut all of the veggies into a 1/4 to 1/3-inch dice:  first cut 1-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice into 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick strips; cut crosswise to make 1/4- to 1/3-inch dice. Cut the onions into eights through the root ends, leaving the wedges intact. (You should have about 8 cups of vegetables.)
  3. Place all of the veggies in a large bowl (except beets), and toss with oil, 2 tablespoons of rosemary, pepper, cayenne and salt.  Drizzle the beets with a little oil and toss.
  4. On 1 extra large (or 2 large), parchment paper lined cookie sheets lay the onion wedges cut side down, randomly on the pan. Scatter the root vegetables over the rest of the pan.  Place the garlic cloves, interspersed among the root vegetables.  Try to get everything in a single layer, if possible.
  5. On 1 small, parchment paper lined cookie sheet, scatter the beets.
  6. Roast, turning the vegetables every 15 minutes or so with a spatula, until they are tender and golden, about 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from the pan and sprinkle the remaining rosemary and some fresh pepper (toss if you like).
  8. Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into a bowl, top with Mmm-mmm Tofu, and serve.

Notes:  The cooked hash can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Warm in a nonstick skillet over moderate heat.

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