“I am making Couscous salad for dinner”, my sister announced one evening during our visit to her house. “Mmm-hmmm” I mumbled in reply. I love my sister’s simple, uncomplicated approach to cooking and am a fan of her dishes, but I could not muster a whole lot of enthusiasm for salad.
Here’s the deal – In theory, I would like to be eating salads everyday….I understand that. The raw veggies retain more fiber and are low-glycemic compared to our over-cooked Indian style veggies. I get it!!
But, I always have a mental block against fully appreciating them. So, it came as such a shock to me when I ate the salad, declared it “the best salad eveeerrr!!”, had a second helping and begged her to make it again soon. Third time this week, for this photoshoot, and my love for this salad is still going strong….
My sister has been making this recipe for a couple of years now, and I can see why she likes it so much. I am determined to make this salad a part of my weekday rotation and my mind is now whizzing with ideas for more grain based salads!!
What is the big deal about this salad?
If you scroll down and look at the recipe, you will find that the recipe contains
- a grain – Couscous
- some chopped veggies and
- standard balsamic vinaigrette.
So, if you are scratching you head wondering, what is the secret ingredient – there is none, but here are the reasons according to my sister why this salad is delicious.
1. A little bit of everything:
My sister suggested that the taste of the salad is increased with small amounts of everything. You might be tempted to use up the whole cucumber (because you don’t want to keep the rest half in the fridge) – DON’T! or use lots of lettuce (because you have way too much)- DON’T!! Just use a little bit of everything.
This techniques ensures that almost each bite has a little bit of crunch, a little bit of sweet, a little bit of salty, etc. Yum, yum!!
2. Cut everything small and almost the same size
This again ensures each spoon of bite is an amalgam of flavors – the bite from the onion, crunch from nuts, sweetness from the dried apricots etc.
The Whole Wheat couscous is tiny in size, absorbs the flavors of the salad like a sponge and takes just 5 minutes to cook (see instructions to cook couscous here). It is such a delight and has 7g fiber and 8g protein per 1/3 cup. Yay!!
Fluffy Couscous with cucumber, onions, tomatoes, nuts, seeds and a tangy-sweet balsamic dressing.
- 1 cup cooked couscous (I used Trader Joe's Brand)
- 1/2 cup cucumber (diced)
- 1/2 cup tomatoes (diced)
- 1/4 onion (finely chopped) use red or sweet onion
- 2-3 lettuce leaves (finely chopped)
- 4-5 olives (chopped)
- 2 dried apricots (chopped small)
- 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/8 cup chopped almonds
- 2-3 tbsp crumbled feta
- 1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 3/8 cup Olive oil (1:3 ratio - vinegar to oil)
Cook couscous according to packet instructions. I added hot water 1:1 ratio and closed the lid for 5 minutes. Fluff up the couscous once it is done.
Prep and chop all veggies
Add the dressing ingredients to a closed jar and shake vigorously until you get an emulsion.
Add all or some of the dressing to the couscous, cut veggies based on your liking. Mix all ingredients well and serve!!
Having grown up as a South Indian with rice and lentils, normal leafy-lettuce-y salads doesn’t quite cut it for me. That style feels a little inadequate. But, I have never given grain based salad much thought until now. This couscous salad has it all – heartiness of the grain, fiber from the veggies and protein from the nuts, seeds and cheese. Nourishing, hearty and filling – Ahh!!…now that’s more my style.
My sister often packs it for lunch to work and assured me that it travels well. Add a hard boiled egg if you want more protein to the lunch. This salad also makes for a great weekday dinner. 20 minutes tops, to prep and pull all the elements together.
I know, I know – salads don’t photograph great!! It is hard to make a healthy, delicious salad look stunning. But trust me, it is yummy!! I strongly urge you to try this recipe. I hope you fall in love with it like I did.
Please post your comments below if you did? Made substitutions? – post that as well. I look forward to your comments.