Sometimes, I’m up for anything in the kitchen: ready to experiment, excited by recipes that require multiple processes. Most weeknights, though, my pressing question is: What can I throw together quickly - I mean, immediately – that will still taste good? And as the days and nights get warmer, my desire for effortlessness increases.
That’s why I love a recipe that says, in essence, “Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.” The work is in the choosing, and maybe a little chopping, and then it’s dress, toss, eat. That’s what I did with my interpretation of a recipe in Maria Koutsogiannis’s new book, Mindful Vegan Meals (Page Street Publishing, 2018). It’s a salad built on Israeli (a.k.a. pearled) couscous, chickpeas and herbs, with a little fruit tossed in and a simple olive oil/lemon juice dressing. And it’s crazy flexible. I wanted more chickpeas, so I put in more chickpeas. I wanted walnuts for crunch: done. I love lemon, so I squeezed in the juice of a second one. It’s not the season for pomegranate seeds, so I chopped up some dried apricots. The end result was filling and light at the same time, and it has made for excellent brown-bag lunches.
The next time I make it – and it will be soon, trust me – the salad will no doubt be different: I’ll try fresh cherries, apricots or even blueberries from the farmers market. Koutsogiannis calls it “your next go-to salad recipe.” I call it my new back-pocket timesaver.
Israeli Couscous Salad With Chickpeas and Herbs
Servings: 6 to 8 (makes 9 cups)
For an extra kick, try using smoked olive oil, if you can get your hands on it, for the dressing.Ingredients:1 cup dried Israeli (pearled) couscous3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (may substitute smoked olive oil; see headnote)Two 15-ounce cans no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and ¼ cup juice (from 1 lemon)¼ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped½ cup loosely packed fresh dill, finely chopped½ cup loosely packed fresh parsley, finely chopped½ cup dried apricots, chopped (see headnote)1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped1 cup loosely packed sunflower sprouts (may substitute pea shoots or another microgreen of your choice)1 teaspoon sea salt, or more as needed½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as neededMethod:Cook the pearled couscous according to package directions, and let cool.
Add the oil, chickpeas, lemon zest and juice, couscous, cilantro, dill, parsley, apricots, walnuts, sunflower sprouts, salt and pepper. Toss to incorporate. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
Serve at room temperature.
Nutrition: Per serving (based on 8) : 390 calories, 14 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 10 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar
Source: Adapted from Mindful Vegan Meals, by Maria Koutsogiannis (Page Street Publishing, 2018).