Weary of pasta salad? Try couscous salad

Whole Wheat M'Hamsa Couscous Salad.
(SHNS photo by Gretchen McKay / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Story by Gretchen McKay
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Thu, Jan 3, 2013
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Couscous is a great alternative to pasta because it cooks so quickly. This recipe was inspired by a dish I saw on the menu at Le Pain Quotidien, a bakery/restaurant chain. It’s made with M’hamsa couscous, a hand-rolled sun-dried couscous from Tunisia that has an especially toasty flavor. You could, however, substitute any brand.

I like delicata squash because its skin is edible, but this dish would be just as terrific made with roasted butternut squash.

COUSCOUS SALAD

  • 1 delicata squash
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups water or broth
  • 1 cup M’hamsa couscous
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh mint leaves
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Feta cheese for garnish (about 1/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

With a sharp knife, cut delicata in half lengthwise. (Don’t worry about peeling; the skin is edible.) Scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 1/2-inch segments, creating moon-shaped pieces that have slight bumps around the curve.

Arrange pieces in a single layer in a metal baking pan and coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt gently. Place in oven and roast 10 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the squash in the pan so that the light sides are now touching the pan and the brown sides are facing up.

Continue roasting, turning every 7 to 10 minutes until both sides of the squash pieces are golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring water or broth to a boil over high heat. Add couscous, stir, cover and return to boil. Turn off heat and let the couscous rest for 7 to 10 minutes, then fluff with fork.

Toss couscous with remaining olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions and parsley and mint. Add lemon juice and roasted squash, and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with feta.

Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish, or 5 to 6 as a side dish.

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