Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer salad

Although the summer over here felt more like fall for a while, we did have our fair share of pasta and potato salads this season. We do lots of different versions and try new recipes each summer. My favorites are an Italian pasta salad with a honey-mustard vinaigrette, a version with tomatoes, olives, capers and feta inspired by a recipe from Emeril I found at Martha Stewart last summer and a potato salad with joghurt, cucumber, dill, apples (and some diced eggs for creaminess).

But sometimes (ok, often) I’m just too tired and lazy to deal with potatoes. I mean, you have to cook them, cool them and peel them. Pasta on the other hand just needs to be cooked and you can prep all the other ingredients while it cooks, then just drain, rinse, toss and you’re done. Still, I didn’t feel like yet another pasta salad. As the weather started to improve this week, I really wanted something different, and I’ve been wanting to try and add some couscous salads to the rotation. As none of the recipes I looked at felt quite right, I decided to make my own version using a lemon dressing and lots of veggies.

I think we’ll do this more often now. The kids liked it – to be honest not as much as they love their favorite pasta salad, and Max did make quite a mess trying to eat the couscous, but hey, they ate it. I’ll also try a few more variations if the weather holds up, I’ve seen one with apricots and almonds. Yum. In terms of prep time and amount of dirty bowls, this is great though. Call me lazy, but it’s something I do consider on weeknights. Especially now that we’re trying to move the kids’ bedtime to more like 7pm than 8pm. Anyway, here’s the recipe, see below for my notes.

Summer couscous salad

2 cups couscous

juice from 2 lemons
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, pepper

3 medium tomatoes
2 yellow bell peppers
½ large cucumber
1 small red onion

Cook couscous according to package directions using either water or broth. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and sugar, add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Adjust seasoning and add parsley. Add dressing to couscous while still warm.

Chop tomatoes, peppers and cucumber and slice red onion. Add to couscous once cooled to room temperature and adjust seasoning as the veggies might require a little more salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Notes: I didn’t bother seeding the tomatoes, but I did peel and seed the cucumber before chopping. You might also want to add fresh corn or cooked carrots, spinach or zuccini would also work. I used those tiny thin cucumbers from a Turkish market, they have much more flavor than the regular ones.

Edit: Greta from Picnics in the Park posted a great Asian Inspired Noodle Salad the other day. I really need to try this and I think you should, too. I really, really like her blog!

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