Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Couscous Salad

Couscous is a coarsely ground pasta made from semolina. It is a staple in the North African Maghreb region.
Like pasta, couscous is made from semolina flour, but rather than mixing the semolina with a prescribed amount of water and/or egg into a dough, couscous is made by rubbing the semolina between moistened hands until the flour combines with just enough water to form hundreds of tiny grains. Needless to say, it is the simplest forms of making pasta and one that is practiced in villages all around the Mediterranean basin.

Couscous comes in instant and non-instant variety. The instant variety is pre-steamed and then dried before it is packaged. This makes the cooking process really quick.

Today I will share a really interesting couscous salad recipe. By just glancing through the ingredients you will realize how refreshing and hearty it is going to be. This is the first couscous recipe I tried at my home and needless to say we are hooked. I am sure you would be too. So let us get started.

Level: Easy
Serves: 4 people
Adapted from: Laura in the kitchen

2/3 cup instant couscous
2/3 cup water
1 tomato, scoop out the seeds and liquid and cut into small cubes
1 medium cucumber, scoop out the seeds and cut into small cubes
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (I use canned chickpeas - washed)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 green chilly, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 tblsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper as needed

Step 1 - Heat 2/3 cup of water covered and let it come to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the instant couscous. Mix quickly with a spoon and cover the pot with a lid for 5 minutes.

Step 2 - Let us get to our dressing now. In a large salad bowl, zest 1/2 a lemon with a zester or the smallest grater you have. Make sure you use only the yellow portion of the lemon. Do not zest the white rind. This will make your dressing bitter. Once done, cut the lemon open and squeeze the life out of it. We need all the lemony goodness. Add the olive oil. Beat all the ingredients well with a whisk or a fork.

Step 3 - Add the chopped veggies, chickpeas, chilly and coriander leaves into the salad dressing. Add salt and pepper. Lightly toss everything together. Do not over mix. This might break the veggies. We do not want that to happen.

Step 4 - By now the 5 mins of couscous standing time would be up. Using a fork, start pulling out the layers of the couscous till they separate well. They should be lump free. Drop this couscous, while it is still warm in the bowl of veggies. Toss lightly with a fork. Adjust the salt and pepper.

The couscous should taste refreshingly lemony and be perfectly salted.
Serve warm or cold. This dish makes a meal in itself.

Happy Cooking Everyone!

This dish can be enjoyed warm or cold out of the fridge.

The more this dish sits in the refrigerator, the more the flavors intensify. I generally make this dish the night before we plan to enjoy it for brunch.

Make sure all the veggie preparations are done before you cook the couscous. We need to use the couscous while it is still warm.

Do not forget to scoop out and discard the seeds and liquid from the tomato and cucumber. If used, they will completely water down the salad.

Give this salad your own touch, by adding or omitting the ingredients of your choice. As couscous does not have any flavor of it's own, it tastes great with any vegetables.

For this recipe, do not follow the cooking instructions on your couscous box, to cook  it. The instructions are to make a really mushy and soft couscous. We do not want that texture for our salad.

Other Sources: Here