A real-life Boston friend, on vacation in Key West, posted on Facebook the other day, "If you're on the street or in a shop, and happen to mention you're from Boston, at least five people will come over to you to commiserate about the snow." We're having a crazy winter here, and perhaps that has put me in a Mediterranean frame of mind. I'm craving the sun and the sea, blue skies, outdoor cafés, long lazy lunches, naps in a hammock, and warmth. A jar of Israeli couscous inspired this quick and easy salad that takes a little spin around the Mediterranean, with bits from Greece, France, Italy, the MidEast and North Africa. I love the large, chewy nuggets of Israeli couscous; you could substitute Italian fregula sarda, or any small-grain couscous, if you prefer. Or orzo or ditalini. You get the idea. Chop up some oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or your own slow-roasted tomatoes; the oil adds tons of flavor, so don't drain the tomatoes before adding them to the salad. Throw in some crunchy fresh vegetables and parsley, and toss everything with a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing, just as they do in countries that border the sea.
Mediterranean couscous, tomato, cucumber and feta salad
From the pantry, you'll need: couscous, slow-roasted (or sun-dried) tomato, black olives, feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, fresh black pepper.
Serves 2; can be multiplied.
1 cup Israeli couscous
6 halves slow-roasted or sun-dried tomato, diced
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced bell pepper, any color
1/4 cup chopped green onion, white and green parts
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Greek seasoning
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper, to taste
In a saucepan or small stockpot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add couscous, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes until couscous is tender. In a colander, rinse the couscous under cold water, drain well, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
When the couscous has cooled, add it along with all remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Stir gently to combine. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed with more vinegar or black pepper.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
More couscous salad ideas:
Greek shrimp, lemon, basil and couscous salad, from The Perfect Pantry
Couscous salad with chopped vegetables, basil, parsley, and pomegranate vinaigrette, from The Perfect Pantry
Couscous with orange and dried fruit, from The Perfect Pantry
Israeli couscous with mushrooms, shallots and asparagus, from A Farmgirl's Dabbles
Green Israeli couscous salad, from Joy the Baker
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