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).

Pinto Beans and Prunes from food.com

So, have you, too, a bag of prunes in your cabinet that you don’t know what to do with?  No?  Well, I did.  I think I thought I’d do something specific with them, and then never did that.  So, instead… this is what I’ve done.  Thanks to Cookgirl for this.

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pinto Beans and Prunes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried pink beans
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (I tried 1 cup of fire-roasted canned tomatoes and 1 cup of leftover marinara sauce) or 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup prune, pitted and diced small ( reduced from 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar ( vinegar was not specified but I tried raw apple cider )
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash ground cloves
  • 1 dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • white pepper, to taste

Garnish

  • fresh basil, cut into ribbons or fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced

Directions

  1. Cook the dried beans *reserving* some of the liquid.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan.
  3. Lightly brown the onions and garlic for a few minutes.
  4. Add all the ingredients except for the beans and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until onions and prunes are soft.
  5. Add the drained beans (and a little bean broth to thin the sauce if necessary.) Heat through for a few minutes.

Original post, here.

Baba Ganoush – The Best in the World! by Mimi Bobeck on food.com

Yes… so what would be hummus without the baba?  Right… so many of us need our baba….

Check out the original post (link below) for amazing reviews and additional hints for this recipe.  If you are going to grill, maybe you want to do a large batch and pass it out to your friends.  It is hard for me to fire up the grill for only one eggplant (of course… the next time I’ll do this, I might also do some kabobs or something… since I’ll be entertaining and all).

If you are worried about the carcinogen effect from a coal fire (or it is winter, and you just aren’t having it), you can always do this on a lower flame, right on your gas range.  It will sputter, like roasting peppers, so keep your eye on it.

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Baba Ganoush – The Best in the World!

Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata

Directions

  1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.
  2. Preheat an oven to 375°F.
  3. Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire.
  4. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.
  7. Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl.
  8. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste.
  9. Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well.
  10. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
  11. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.
  12. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
  13. Place the olives around the sides.

Original post, here.