Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous Salad with Feta

I was on the phone yesterday with the lovely Susan of The Home Artist. We were chatting about recipes, and I mentioned that the teriyaki meatball recipe I'd given her was "wonky." Some students in the past had found it a little bland, others thought there was too much green onion. I suggested playing with it - cooking a mini-patty and sampling it for salt and spice.

She suggested fixing the recipe. And then actually writing the changes down.

Uh. Yeah, why didn't I think of that?

I did. Think of it, that is. I actively chose not to write down my personal changes. I, like most people, only like food that tastes good to me. Unfortunately, not everyone in this world is like me. (Wouldn't that be glorious?! Don't answer that - rhetorical question.) I tell my cooking school students all the time: Food is just like wine. It's only "good" if you like it.

So this is my "good." You'll rarely see me put salt and pepper measurements in my recipes because it's such a matter of personal taste. This salad is tasty just as it is, but it's also really good with farro. Or orzo. Asparagus tips would be nice, or maybe some grilled corn and cilantro instead of olives and basil? Go ahead and tinker. Let me know how it works out for you.

Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous Salad with Feta
Serves 8-10 as a side

1 lb whole wheat pearl couscous (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 teaspoons salt
1 bell pepper, small dice
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped                                           
½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
½ small red onion, small dice                                                                    
½ cup feta, crumbled or cubed
¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)                           
2 cups baby spinach, chiffonade 
¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade                                                                     
salt & pepper to taste

Bring a 4 quart pot of water up to the boil. Season the water with the 2 teaspoons of salt. Drop in Israeli couscous and cook according to package directions.  

When cooked, drain the couscous well and transfer to a large bowl to cool. When cool, combine all other ingredients and drizzle with a double-batch of Lemon Vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Let sit for 20-30 minutes for pasta to absorb vinaigrette before serving.

Note: Any longer than 30-45 minutes and the basil and spinach in this recipe will start to wilt. If you're bringing this to a party this summer (and you really should), I suggest assembling the bulk of the salad at home and bringing the spinach and basil in a separate container. Toss it all together when you arrive.
Another Note: Many thanks to Andrew Wilder at Eating Rules for the free sample of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat pearl couscous!

Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6 as a light salad dressing. This much couscous requires a double batch.
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice                                                           
½- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, pour in lemon juice. While whisking, drizzle in oil a little bit at a time to form an emulsion. Taste after you've added 1/2 cup of juice - 3/4 cup may be too oily for some. After all oil is combined, adjust seasonings to taste.  Option: Add 1 clove minced garlic and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard for a Dijon vinaigrette.


Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry said...

This looks so good! I need to make it soon!

Cookin' Canuck said...

Okay, I have to ask. Where did you find the whole wheat couscous?