Monday, May 2, 2011

Israeli Couscous salad with Balsamic dressing

My Sunday was SHOT.  I didn't get anything done that I needed to. I ended up having to deal with other responsibilities instead.  By dinner, I was hungry, had nothing planned AND I was in a bad mood.  NOT A GOOD COMBINATION.  Poor Tom.

Let me digress a bit.  Tom and I worked out that morning. We worked out HARD.  While I was in church, Tom kept on going on the incline treadmill.  He walked for almost 3 hours at a pace 4.0 MPH or faster(under a 15 minute mile).  He ended up burning over 1800 calories.  UNBELIEVABLE.  On top of that, he only consumed about  300 calories for lunch.  NOT ENOUGH.  So dinner would be important, I knew that.

But did I say I was in a bad mood AND had nothing defrosted, planned, or even thought of?  YEP, I was in trouble.  I thought "we should just go out"...but really, that's a disaster if your, A) overly hungry, B) in a bad mood and C) trying to DIET.  I would have surely gone off plan.  So I thought SOUP!!  I love soup and I have a number of them I can throw together fast..  But when I offered Greek Lemon Soup (someone special gave me fantastic lemons for my birthday) the look on Tom's face said NO.  DUH! what a dork.....of course he didn't want soup.  He needed a substantial meal.


I must have opened the fridge, pantry and freezer a half dozen times.....THINK!!  Then I spotted this little pork tenderloin....and mindlessly opened my container with dried cherries to eat a few.  BINGO!  I will make a pork tenderloin with a dried cherry sauce!  ( I am blogging about that tomorrow )   But what to have with it.....?  Then my whole wheat Israeli couscous called my name (gosh I love that stuff!)  and a SALAD idea was born.  I would make some sort of Israeli Couscous Salad !!  If your are glucose intolerant...don't stop here.  Just swap the couscous for short grain brown rice!

So I grabbed all of my favorite stuff from the produce bin;  Green onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, fresh peas (yes, they do exist !!) along with raw almonds and dried cherries.

Really, the ingredients sort of came about because of the Pork Tenderloin.  I put dried cherries and Balsamic vinegar in the sauce for the pork.  PERFECT - the Balsamic, cherries with a bit of olive oil are great together and would be great with the couscous. Plus it would create unity between the two dishes.

DISCLAIMER:  This dish IS healthy, but it isn't low in points...why?  because of  olive oil, dried cherries and almonds along with (basically) pasta.  Weight Watchers points don't like that stuff!  So this is NOT the dish to eat if you can only have a few points.  But it was FRESH, VIBRANT and UTTERLY delicious. It's the perfect summertime salad (add cubed chicken for a complete meal!) I will make it over and over this summer!

You know....the greatest part about writing this blog is that it forces me to write down what I do.  This way so you can create the same great dish and I can easily recreate the dish without asking myself, what did i do to make that salad?

There is however ONE problem with the dish.  You WILL NOT be able to stop eating it.  YEAH....NOT GOOD for portion control!!!  But it did get me out of my bad mood and it put a smile on my husbands face. Hopefully you will love it as much as we did!!

Here is what you will need:

1  cup Israeli Couscous (also known as pearl couscous) - I used whole wheat
2  cups low fat or Fat Free chicken broth
bit of olive oil for toasting couscous
1 cup diced cherry tomatoes (I used baby heirlooms)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 - 3/4 cup cucumbers, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh peas (optional - we will talk about these)
1/3 cup fresh raw almonds (very roughly chopped)
1/8 cup dried cherries, chopped
1-2 teaspoons orange zest
1/8 cup balsamic
1/8 cup olive oil (more or less to taste - adjust points)
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

To make the couscous:

Heat a bit of olive oil in a sauce pan (med size).  Add couscous and cook over high heat until it turns golden brown.  Add the 2 cups of Chicken broth.  ** BE CAREFUL...IT SPLATTERS AND STEAMS WHEN YOU ADD THE LIQUID**.  Cover and simmer until the liquid is absorb and the couscous is tender.

If you have time, transfer to a bowl and cool.  I however, had no such time.  I put tons of ice with some water into a larger bowl and stuck the couscous in a smaller bowl creating an ice bath.   Stir  the couscous a bit and it will cool rapidly.  Set couscous aside.

To Make the Salad:
Add the diced tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, fresh peas, if using, chopped dried Cherries to a bowl.

Isn't that gorgeous?  WOW - it just LOOKS like summer in a bowl.

**Note about fresh peas.....I remember being a kid and going to the beach on a Sunday with my parents.  We would pass by these produce stands and would ALWAYS stop.  My mom would buy POUNDS and POUNDS of fresh English peas.  OMG!  SOOOOO GOOD.  We gobbled them up like candy.  FOR YEARS!!  I have hunted for fresh peas.  NOBODY has them anymore, not even the produce stands.  I LONG FOR THEM EACH YEAR.  Imagine my surprise when Valley Produce Market actually HAD fresh peas???  I have bought about 10 pounds over the last couple weeks and have put them in EVERYTHING.....if you cant find them, use frozen (never canned) or leave them out.

ROAST the almonds in a dry pan until lightly browned- Only make about 3-4 pcs out of an almond (or less) The big pieces of almond are the BEST PART. Add to Veggies.

For the Dressing:

Whisk together olive oil, balsamic, orange zest, pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust seasoning to your liking - you may want more balsamic, olive oil, etc....

Mix the cooled couscous with Veggies in bowl, add dressing and mix well.  Refrigerate to chill (or put it in the freezer for a bit like I did !!)

The result? A gorgeously appealing, bright, vibrant, and super flavorful salad perfect for summertime or anytime!! 

Its especially helpful to get you out of that bad mood!!

From my home to yours, ENJOY!


1 comment:

  1. We couldnt stand it...We made this agin the next evening...To really get the effect of orange, it really needs about 2 teaspoons or more of orange zest - OH lets just call it the zest if a large orange!! This time I squeezed the orange juice from the orange into the salad (you can reduce the oil a bit that way....REALLY GOOD.