First published in April 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. If you don't keep bottled salad dressing in your pantry, skip right to the recipe, which you can make with your own favorite creamy vinaigrette and any seasonal vegetables you find at the farm stand.
Psssst. I've got a secret.
Paul Newman is playing peek-a-boo in my refrigerator. And he's not alone.
You'll always find three or four bottled salad dressings hiding in there with him.
These salad dressings aren't for salad; they're the best, quickest marinades in the world.
Not that making a marinade from scratch is a difficult thing, you understand, but bottled dressings win the speed and storage space competition. A great marinade takes a bit of time to concoct, as you fiddle with the balance of flavors and spices. Often it starts with oil and vinegar. Then, you might add mustard, yogurt, honey, buttermilk, tomato juice, salt and pepper. All of those bottles and containers take up a lot of room in the pantry and on your work table, too, and that's before you've zested a lemon or minced a scallion or plucked the leaves off a branch of rosemary.
Bottled salad dressings make cooking simple. The infinite variety of good-quality products (if I can find organics here, in my small-town market, you can find them anywhere) makes it easy to match dressings with meat, fish, chicken or veggies. Read labels carefully to avoid the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup.
For marinating veggies, shrimp and chicken, I love Newman's Own (which now offers an organic creamy caesar, along with a wonderful balsamic vinaigrette) and Seeds of Change. I use Annie's from time to time. Don't overlook the products available at farmstands, too; our local Chepachet Farms maple vinaigrette, far too sweet for salad, makes a perfect marinade for chicken cooked on the grill.
Hot roasted vegetables with couscous (and chicken)
One of those wonderful recipes that expands, contracts, adapts, and always pleases. I served this to some chef friends who came for dinner. Gutsy, don't you think? And everyone asked for the recipe! Make this totally vegetarian, or add shrimp or chicken, as I did here. Use your favorite combination of vegetables. Great for potluck, picnic or buffet. Serves 6 or more.
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
3-4 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 giant (or 2 smaller) red onion, peeled, cut into quarters and pieces separated
1 can jumbo black pitted olives, drained
1 bottle Newman's Own Creamy Caesar salad dressing, or bottled dressing of your choice
1 lb frozen shrimp (21-25 or 26-30), peeled and deveined, OR 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into one-inch cubes (optional)
2 boxes instant couscous (I use Near East brand, with roasted garlic and olive oil)
In a large nonreactive bowl, combine all of the vegetables, the olives, and enough of the salad dressing to coat the vegetables. Mix, and let stand at room temperature for at least one hour, and up to several hours.
[Note: if you are using chicken, marinate the cubes in a small bowl with enough salad dressing to cover, for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator. If you're using shrimp, one hour before you're ready to serve, defrost the shrimp, and marinate them in a small bowl with enough of the salad dressing to coat them. Don't marinate meat/fish/poultry with the vegetables; use a separate bowl, and keep in the refrigerator.]
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Make the couscous according to package directions, and set aside. Add veggies (and chicken) to a roasting pan or cazuela, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the shrimp, and continue cooking until the shrimp are done, 5-8 minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork, and place in a large serving platter. Top with veggie mixture, including any pan juices. Enjoy hot, room temperature, or cold.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Couscous with orange and dried fruit
Couscous salad with herbs
Chicken and vegetable quinoa stir-fry
Vegan quinoa salad with roasted sweet potato, apples, dried cranberries and pine nuts
Shrimp, couscous, feta and herb salad with tomato vinaigrette
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Whole wheat couscous salad with persimmon, grapes, green onion, mint, and pine nuts, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Warm and nutty breakfast couscous, from Food Blogga
Marinated lamb chops and roasted veggie couscous, from What We're Eating
Moroccan style vegetables with couscous, from Radiance Recipes
Israeli couscous with pesto and Spring vegetables, from Vintage Mixer
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