Monday, May 6, 2013

Fat couscous salad with snap peas

Summer has finally come to Portland. It is so glorious to see clear blue skies and to feel the sun on your back. To pull out summer clothes and enjoy cool slushies.
And it goes without saying - you want to eat salad for dinner. There is nothing fat about this salad - it is made with Israeli couscous. It is a hearty, flavorful salad that stands on its own.

Feeds 5 as an entree

For the couscous
1 8 oz box of Israeli couscous
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oil
1 3/4 cups water.

For the salad
1/4 white onion
1 english cucumber
4 ripe tomatoes
3/4 lb of snap peas
cleaned, washed and spun spinach
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sumac
2 tbsp grape seed oil.
1/2 cup pecans


Put the water to boil. In a separate saucepan, warm the olive oil on medium. Add the couscous,cumin seeds and the bay leaf and stir until the couscous starts smelling nutty and starts to take on some brown( about 5 minutes). Slowly add the boiling water(watch out: there is some serious hissing and spluttering that will happen). Add some salt to taste and bring to a boil. Now lower the flame and simmer until all the water has been absorbed.(12 to 13 minutes). Let stand for five minutes and fluff with a fork. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you prep the rest of the ingredients.


Take the largest salad bowl you have. Chop the onions really fine and add it to the bowl. Add about 1/2 a tsp of salt, the red pepper flakes and the balsamic. Mix well. You are going to let the onion pickle while you prep the other ingredients.
String the snow peas. I find using a paring knife makes it go faster. Stack about 5 or 6 of them on your cutting board and cut into thirds at an angle.  Add the snow peas to the bowl.
Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes into bite sized chunks and add them to the bowl.
Toast the pecans. I used the lazy method. Lay them out in a single layer on a microwave safe plate and cook for about 2 minutes. You could also toast this in a skillet. Cool and chop roughly and add to the salad bowl.
Add the cooled couscous, grapeseed oil, sumac, another 1/2 tsp of salt  and a few grinds of pepper. Mix the salad well.

To serve: line your salad plate with fresh spinach and top generously with the couscous salad.

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