Couscous Salad

I like couscous salad but have never found one I like. In general, when I look for recipes, I like to gather many contributions and to see if there's some consensus on ingredients and methods. Once I see which sections are flexible, I set out to create my own version or a hybrid of what seems to make sense.

Most couscous salads start with preparation of the couscous by adding boiling water to the grain and letting it set for 5 minutes off the heat and then putting in the other stuff. This works for eating it hot (within 20 minutes) but for some reason, it just doesn't stop cooking quickly enough for purposes of a cold salad application. Maybe it's just me but I end up with mush by about the 30 minute mark. It wasn't untill a trip to my friend Marie's wedding last year (in the south of France) did I find a nifty trick. My french is horrible (speaking and comprehending) but I was able to find out that they made (the best) couscous salads using only room temperature liquids.

The crucial piece of information absconded from the conversation, I was off to find out the critical volume of liquid used to hydrate the couscous. After some playing around, here's a version of a couscous salad that can me ready to eat within 30 minutes (including a brief chill time) and can be made vegetarian or not. The only critical quantities in this recipe are the grain (couscous) and liquid. All the other goodies added are flexible.

Couscous Salad - a size good enough for a potluck

couscous, 1 1/4 cups (250 grams)
liquids (add these liquids to a 2C measuring cup sequentially):
    juice of 1 orange
    honey, ca. 1 tablespoon
    cider vinegar, ca. 3 tablespoons
    water, enough to complete the total volume to 400 mL (on the side of the measuring cup)

Add liquids to couscous and stir once in a while. Couscous will absorb all the liquid within 10 minutes or so. It's kind of cool to watch the grains plump up. It's almost exothermic.

Step 2
Add the following ingredients or your favorites:
pine nuts, lightly toasted, 2 T
fresh mint, 1-2 T
olive oil, up to 3 T (good stuff)
salt and pepper
green onion
finely diced tomatoes
raisins or apricots (plumped in boiling water and drained if too dry), 1-2 T
non veggie version: pan seared boneless chicken breasts, cooled and chopped into big chunks.

Step 3
Blend and refrigerate. I like it slighly chilled and served atop a bed of lettuce (with cheese and olives).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd love to come to the south of France to try this. Thanks for the recipe and I will try it when my sister comes from Iowa this week. Gayle from the coast of Maine where it is heavenly right now ( one of the dozen perfect days we have!)