When nobody is home, I love to do the thing I hate to watch other people do: I open the refrigerator door, and stand and stare inside, searching for inspiration. My mother's voice echoes in my ears: "Don't leave the door open! Just take what you want!" My mother wasn't really a let-your-imagination-run-wild kind of cook, but somehow, I've become one. A bit of this, some leftover that, the fixings for a salad or stir-fry or stew: it's all in my fridge. That's how this fantastic couscous salad recipe came to life. It started with leftover cooked Israeli couscous, which could just as easily have been orzo or small pasta (always make extra to have some on hand for salads). I discovered a rainbow of vegetables -- tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers -- snipped some herbs fresh from the garden, and tossed it all with a tangy pomegranate dressing. Mix things up with whatever you find in the refrigerator. Go ahead; stand and stare. It works for me.
Couscous salad with chopped vegetables, basil, parsley and pomegranate vinaigrette
Serves 2-3; can be multiplied.
For the pomegranate vinaigrette dressing:
2 Tbsp pomegranate vinegar (or use fig vinegar, or red wine vinegar, champagne or balsamic)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of fresh black pepper
For the salad:
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (or use orzo or another leftover cooked small pasta, or use regular couscous)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small cucumber, diced (I like the small Persian cucumbers)
1 large plum tomato, diced
12 medium black olives, halved
2 large basil leaves, sliced thinly
2-3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Shake the jar vigorously, to emulsify (thicken) the dressing, and set aside.
Toss together all of the salad ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with as much of the salad dressing as you like, and stir gently to combine.
Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 1 day.
More reasons to make the whole package of Israeli couscous:
Shrimp, couscous, feta and herb salad with tomato vinaigrette
Couscous with orange and dried fruit
Couscous for a summer night
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Israeli couscous salad with roasted vegetables, from Two Peas & Their Pod
Israeli couscous with butternut squash and preserved lemons, from David Lebovitz
Green Israeli couscous salad, from Joy the Baker
Chili, lemon and basil shrimp with Israeli couscous, from The Kitchn
Cinnamon-scented toasted Israeli couscous with pine nuts, from Cookin' Canuck
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