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).

Super Simple Spring/Summer Salad

This is the simplest salad that I know. My mother used to make this, but also included the now-debatablyendangered hearts of palm, during the summer when tomatoes and avocados were at their bests. It’s a bit early for this salad, and, to my complete horror, I almost missed this avocado (sorry that I didn’t use a more beautiful one in the pic–it was my last).

I have to remember that hydration can come in the form of food, not just by drinking the prescribed numbers of glasses of water. So, come ON hydration!

Super Simple Spring/Summer Salad

2015-05-28 13.02.27Prep-time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 2 (as entrees), 2-4 (as side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2-3 T balsamic vinaigrette

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Serve immediately or marinade for up to 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes or so.

Gazpacho by Alton Brown (Food Network)

I can watch Alton Brown all day long.

I can eat gazpacho all summer long.

If you do a quick search for “gazpacho,” you will find a ton of different recipes.  The beautiful thing about this cold, Spanish (Adalusian, in the south) soup is that you can do a ton of variations.  I do really appreciate L.V. Anderson’s Slate article about creating the most “authentic” version of this recipe.  I offer you Alton Brown’s recipe only because, well, who doesn’t like “Good Eats,” and because it is super easy and has a lot of texture.  I prefer some chew in my soup.  But, check out Anderson’s smooth and creamy recipe, as well.  The addition of almonds in Anderson’s recipe makes the soup creamier and more substantial. It is lovely.

As the tomatos become more and more interesting, throughout the summer, I suggest playing around with your gazpacho recipes. Plum tomatoes are always a good choice, and you can combine them with fancier tomatoes for the soup and to stretch out your heirlooms or whatever else you might use.  I love jalapeño in gazpacho–to me, it is a must.  Instead of other herbs and spices, I also highly recommend adding a dollop of freshly made sofrito, if you ever get the chance.

See the foodnetwork.com original post (below), for the gazpacho segment of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”

 Image courtesy of Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Gazpacho

Prep Time: 45 min
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min
Servings: 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Tomato juice
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Directions
Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.

Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.

Original post, here.