Sides, Snacks

111

Greek Couscous Salad

As the weather warms up we’re quickly approaching summer salads season! The season of beers outside and cold dinner- I love it! A little background: I first learned this recipe when I took an after school cooking class in 3rd grade (I started young). We’d gather in the teacher’s lounge around a hot plate and microwave and make some pretty fancy treats. I still use the little orange paper print-out booklet of recipes they gave us at the end of the program! So by my calculations, if I’m still making this salad twelve years later (look- math!) it must be pretty darn delicious. And it IS. This is also a great potluck dish, as the recipe can easily be doubled (even quadrupled- more math!)

Salad

– 1 box couscous

– 1 red pepper, chopped

– 1 yellow pepper, chopped

– 1 green pepper, chopped

– 1/2 cucumber, diced

– 1/2 small cucumber, cored and chopped

– 1 red onion, diced

– 1 can chickpeas, drained

– 1 cup kalamatta olives, pitted and chopped

– 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook the couscous according to the directions on the box and chop all the veggies. Let the couscous cool completely. Make the vinaigrette (see below). In a large bowl, add the couscous, veggies, olives, chickpeas, and cheese. Toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add the vinaigrette and toss well again when you’re ready to eat!

Vinaigrette

– 1/2 cup olive oil

– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

– 2 tbsp. lemon juice

– salt and pepper (to taste)

Place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake well!

 

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Sides, Snacks

ninety seven

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.

Couscous Salad

– 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.

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Snacks

sixty nine

Curried Chickpea Salad

Side dishes are one of my favorite things to make. I love seeing a plate that’s full of many different things, so I try to whip up at least two side dishes for every dinner I make, even if it’s a simple salad. This particular “salad” is more my version of a deconstructed chickpea korma, a South Asian Curry. It’s incredibly aromatic and flavorful, and goes with so much. You can serve it over rice, with naan, on a green salad, or treat it like your typical side dish and spoon a big helping onto a plate full of whatever. Live your life. One of the best things about this dish is the role the onions play. Not only do they add great flavor, being onions and all, but they also have a lot of time to soak up all those great spices until they take on a completely different flavor than if the spices were added after the onions finished cooking. Yuuuuuum.

Salad (very loosely adapted from NYTimes.com)

– 6 teaspoons olive oil

– 1 1/2 cups diced white onion

– 1 small clove garlic, diced finely

– 1 tsp. turmeric

– 1 tsp. cumin

– 1 tsp. coriander

– 1 tsp. ground ginger

– 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

– 1 tsp. garam masala

– dash cayenne pepper (optional)

– 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

– 1 ear of corn, cooked and cut off the cob (canned works too)

– 4 tsp. lemon juice

– 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt

– Pepper to taste

– 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large and fairly deep pan on medium. When hot, add the oil, then onion and garlic; sauté until the onions begin to brown (6 to 8 minutes) stirring periodically. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom, garam masala, and cayenne pepper (if using) and continue to sauté until the spices begin getting fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, making sure the chickpeas have softened nicely. Remove from heat and add the corn. While the salad cools, mix in the parsley. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or cover in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a few hours and serve chilled.

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Sides, Snacks

sixty five

Corn, Avocado, and Red Pepper Salad

As summer is coming to an end (tears), I just had to share this rad summer salad before it was too late! (Just kidding, if you make it in November I won’t tell and it’ll still be awesome). This recipe was originally corn, avocado, and tomato salad, but if you know anything about me, you know I really can’t handle tomatoes. It’s a weird thing. But anyway, I had this salad a few times earlier this summer and it was AMAZING. Seriously. Even with the tomatoes. I’m such a sucker for a fresh summer salad. Probably because I’m very much a meat-on-the-side kinda gal. If you want to get technical, my dinner plate is usually full of green, sometimes orange, with some brown and maybe beige. So obviously there are times when I seriously think I will jump out a window if I see another piece of lettuce. That’s why I really try to supplement with veggie salads when I can. Then you don’t need any lettuce! You’ve already got that whole vegetable section of the food pyramid taken care of! Summer salads are one of those perfect dishes to bring to a pot luck or barbecue; if you bring this somewhere I can pretty much assure you that you won’t hear someone say “oh, avocados, I’m not eating that those week, too much fat” (I’ve encountered a version of this sentence many times. The thing that I’ve brought to the party is usually brownies). And if you’re really feeling adventurous you can add some chickpeas and couscous, and there you have a full meal/more filling side dish! Enjoy!

Salad (adapted from FoodNetwork.com)

– 5 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob

– 1 red pepper, chopped

– 1 avocado, chopped

– 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced

Dressing

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

– 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice

– 2 tsp dried cilantro

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 1/4 tsp pepper

Combine the vegetables in a bowl and gently toss. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad, gently stirring. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and then gently stir again. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

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Main Dishes, Sides

twenty five

Mixed Greens Salad and Vinaigrette  (with goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, and apples) (aka, how to make salad not boring)

So this dish is a combination of a great many things, ending with a retro recipe of my (and others’) own creation: 1. Making a version of this slammin’ salad for dinner with a friend  2. Wanting to blog about it because it was so delicious 3. Deciding to spend a great deal of spare time I really don’t have scouring the interwebs for a vintage vinaigrette so I can [more or less] honestly call this a retro recipe  4. Discovering that the majority of salads from the 50s and 60s involve an inordinate amount of gelatin and Miracle Whip, two things I can’t say I have ever really associated with salad [side note: one of these so-called “salads” did involve a sliced banana sitting atop a bed of lettuce in between layers of peanut butter and mayo. I’ll just leave that there]   5. Morphing the few recipes I did find that did not in fact sound like something a hungry teenage boy creates out of leftovers in the fridge into something wonderful!

Salad

– Several packages of mixed greens (or your favorite kind of lettuce)

– 1/2+ cup walnuts

– 1/4- as-much-as-you-want cup fresh or precrumbled goat cheese

– 1/2+ cup dried cranberries

– 1 large apple, sliced into thin strips

Make sure the lettuce is WASHED and then assemble. If you can’t do this without further instruction…I……I..just…don’t know how to help you.

Dressing

If you want to get technical, the magic ratio of vinegar to oil in vinaigrette is 3:1, so apply this to however much you think you’ll need. In all honesty, I usually eyeball the crap out of stuff like this..

– Red wine vinegar

– Extra virgin olive oil (Anthony Bourdain, if you happen to be reading my blog, I promise you I do NOT refer to this as EVOO like your arch-nemesis Rachel Ray. Wanna go to dinner sometime?)

– 1+ tsp. Dijon mustard

– 1 clove garlic, minced OR 1 shallot, minced

– salt and pepper

Place all aforementioned ingredients in a large mason jar (no, this isn’t a hipster thing, it’s a really-freaking-helpful thing) and shake it all up. Pour over the previously assembled salad and enjoy!

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