Warm Couscous Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts
Although couscous is essentially tiny round pasta, I think it’s incredibly versatile once you figure out the right ways to jazz it up. There have been too many times where I’ve been alone in the kitchen with a box of couscous staring at my refrigerator looking for something to make it a little less…beige. I’ve had successes (sautéed carrots and chickpeas with roasted red pepper sauce over couscous anyone?) and I’ve had -er- not successes (coconut couscous pudding, someday I will win). Regardless, this is a recipe celebrating a victory of mine in the kitchen with couscous. Truly, this it was the happiest of accidents! Or maybe we can call it a stroke of genius! (Side note: who’s ever watched Sweet Genius? Easily the best show on television. Take a sec to watch a video. Or all 7 videos. Chef Ron is my hero.) Okay, maybe the salad wasn’t genius, I think I was just hungry. But it was yummy. Like, much yummier than I -and all who consumed it- were expecting. In terms of pearled vs. normal couscous, I used to absolutely hate the pearled kind, but in the case of this recipe, I think it really works. So do me a favor and try it, but if you really can’t, I understand. We all have texture issues. The salad will be just as good with normal couscous. In case anyone was wondering I’ve now typed couscous so many times in the course of writing this post it doesn’t feel like a real word anymore.
– 1 box pearled couscous
– 2 tbsp. olive oil
– 1/4 cup pine nuts
– 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 cup large green marinated olives, pitted and chopped (mine were marinated in crushed red pepper and garlic- use whatever you like. If you haven’t been to an olive bar at Whole Foods yet, I strongly recommend you do that now. Also, who out there believes in the olive theory?)
– 1/2 cup feta cheese (optional)
– salt and pepper
Cook couscous according to directions on the box (I like cooking in vegetable or chicken stock instead of water for a more robust flavor, but you do whatever makes you happy!) Heat oil over medium heat, sauté onions until translucent, then add the pine nuts and cook until the nuts begin to toast. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes. Add olives and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cooked couscous, salt, and pepper. Combine well. If using, top with feta cheese and serve warm.