Monday, January 17, 2011

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans

Couscous is one of my favorite grains to cook with because it cooks extremely quickly and is a great blank palette to build a meal on. When browsing through one of my newest acquisitions, The Food Matters Cookbook, I came across this quick and easy couscous salad recipe. Fresh and crunchy carrots are combined with nutty whole wheat couscous, tart and sweet dried cranberries, and rich pecans brought together with a light vinaigrette of lemon juice and olive oil. The original recipe struck me as a side rather than a main dish, so I added a can of chickpeas to turn it into a healthy and satisfying main dish. This can be eaten at room temperature or cold, and makes fantastic leftovers for lunch the following day.

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
serves 4

1 cup whole wheat couscous
Kosher or sea salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large carrots, grated
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
Grated zest and juice of one lemon, or more as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried

1. Put the couscous in a small pot and add 1.5 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let steep for at least 10 minutes or up to 20.

2. Put the slightly cooled couscous in a large salad bowl along with the chickpeas, carrots, pecan, cranberries, scallions, olive oil, and lemon zest and juice and sprinkle with spices and salt and pepper. Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing the couscous and tossing gently to separate the grains. (The salad can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

3. Stir in the parsley and sage. Taste and adjust the seasoning, moisten with a little more oil and olive juice as you like, and serve.

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