What have you been up to this summer? I don’t know about you, but cleaning and tidying up the house has been one of my priorities. I know it sounds boring, routine and uneventful, but that’s the truth: I have been using my summer break to bring some semblance of order to our house. I hardly ever get the chance to do it during the school term, and I have found that two small kids can cause a lot of clutter – or maybe I’m just disorganized and looking for someone else to blame 😛 In any case, these past few weeks I’ve been on a mission to declutter things around the house, starting with the pantry.
Working my way through the pantry has led to many discoveries – who knew I had so many awesome ingredients which needed to be used? Take Bob’s Red Mill’s tricolor pearl couscous, for example. Rich in selenium and folic acid, couscous are small balls of durum wheat/semolina flour, and can be used instead of pasta or rice in salads and similarly light dishes. One among three kinds of couscous, Bob’s Red Mill’s tri-color pearl/Israeli couscous is naturally dyed with tomato and spinach for an exciting mix of colors, which can brighten up any meal.
I decided to use Bob’s Red Mill’s tricolor pearl couscous in a vegan salad, which would also give me the chance to utilize some open-jar perishable ingredients which desperately needed to be used. As a big fan of Mediterranean flavors and influences, I was keen to pair the couscous with juicy, succulent organic grape tomatoes and chopped mini peppers and onion…
… which I sautéed in butter for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes started to blister and to release their juices. For a healthier alternative, you can use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.
I followed the instructions on the packet to boil the couscous, doubling the quantities as needed.
I then added the buttery veggies to the couscous…
…and mixed gently with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Time to add the leftover artichokes and green & black olives I had in the back of the fridge (lol)…
… as well as a bunch of chopped green onion and fresh herbs from the garden. You may be apprehensive to see so much onion going into this salad, but I can assure you it’s not too much. The flavor contributions brought by the sautéed red onion and the fresh green onion are each unique and valuable on their own.
I poured a simple vinaigrette (3 parts extra virgin olive oil, 1 part white wine vinegar, salt and pepper) over the salad, and mixed until homogeneous. I seasoned to taste and then put the salad in the fridge to serve later.
And here it is: the perfect summer salad, ready in 25 minutes max!
Fresh herbs can make a big difference to the final mix of flavors in this salad, and I for one was super excited to be able to add fresh basil from the garden. We’ve had our ups and downs with this small basil plant. At some point I thought we were gong to lose it, but luckily for us, with lots of water and plenty of TLC, this basil came back to life, and now is thriving in its pot. Yay!
And that’s the story of this salad, in a nutshell. What started off as a simple decluttering exercise has led to a flavor-packed summer dish that is as quick to make as it is delicious. Not only did I tidy up the pantry, but I also managed to use up a few other ingredients I had in the fridge, creating a light meal that left my family satisfied, and asking for a repeat. The tricolor pearl couscous is gone for now, and the question becomes: What am I going to use up next? Decisions, decisions 🙂
Couscous salad with artichokes, olives and fresh herbs
- 2 cups pearl couscous
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup chopped mini peppers of various colors
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped artichokes in brine
- 1/3 cup pitted green olives in oil
- 1/3 cup pitted black olives in oil
- 2 tbsp chopped green onion
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt (for boiling the couscous) + more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous, reduce to simmer, and cook until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. When cooked, remove the couscous from the pan and place it in a big mixing bowl to cool slightly.
- While the couscous is cooking, melt butter in a separate pan. Add tomatoes, chopped peppers and red onion. Sautée the vegetables in butter for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes start to blister and to release their juices. For a healthier alternative, use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.
- Take the veggies out of the pan and add to the bowl with the couscous. Add artichokes, olives, green onion and fresh herbs. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
- In a small bowl make the vinaigrette by mixing extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the couscous and veggies. Mix until homogeneous. Add extra salt and pepper if necessary, and mix some more. Place the salad in the refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled.