When the temperature inches above 55°F here in New England for more than two days in a row, people jump into full-on summer mode: shorts, T-shirts and sandals, garden planting, and cookouts. Don't be caught unprepared when the invitations start arriving. Have a few good picnic and potluck dishes, like this shrimp, couscous, feta and herb salad, in your repertoire. There's no mayonnaise or egg, which makes this perfect picnic fare, and vegetarians can adapt this easily by omitting the shrimp and adding more chopped vegetables. You can substitute grandanina pasta or fregula sarda for the Israeli couscous; follow the package directions to cook before adding to the rest of the dish. What really makes the salad is the dressing, and for that, you need either your own slow-roasted tomatoes made with garlic, thyme and olive oil, or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes plus a bit of extra garlic and herbs.
Shrimp, couscous, feta and herb salad with tomato vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a main dish salad, 8 as a side dish.
1-1/2 cups Israeli couscous (or grandanina or fregula sarda)
3 cups boiling water
1 lb medium (31-40 size) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 slow-roasted tomato halves (or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp parsley leaves, or dill weed, or mint
1 large tomato, diced
2-3 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Coarse sea salt
Place the couscous in a 2- or 3-quart sauce pan, and pour the boiling water over it. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the couscous is cooked through. Drain off any excess water (do not rinse under cold water), and place the couscous in a mixing bowl.
Place the shrimp in a glass bowl or large glass measuring cup. If the shrimp are frozen, you don't need to add water; if defrosted, add 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp are cooked (frozen shrimp will take a few minutes more). Set aside to cool.
In a blender, pureé the slow-roasted tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of parsley or other herb. Add a tablespoon or two of water to achieve the consistency of thick salad dressing. Pour this mixture over the couscous, and stir to combine.
Add the diced tomato, basil, 1/4 cup parsley, feta, and the cooled shrimp. Toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
Before serving, season to taste with coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Couscous with orange and dried fruit
Fregula sarda with roasted and fresh peppers, feta and basil
Couscous salad with herbs
Baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta
Pasta salad with feta, basil, olives, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Avocado and red pepper Israeli couscous, from Sarah's Cucina Bella
Israeli couscous with butternut squash and preserved lemons, from David Lebovitz
Tomato, feta and oregano panini, from Panini Happy
Green bean, tomato, and feta salad oreganato, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Orecchiette with slow roasted tomatoes and artichokes, from Two Peas & Their Pod
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