Several weeks back at a potluck lunch I ate a salad with a mysterious grain in it. It was round with flat edges, and white. A bit bouncy, and quite delicious with a little cilantro, cucumber, and tomatoes. After some diligent Googling, I found out that this grain was Israeli couscous, and that although it seems like it might be the kind of food found only at Whole Foods, you can get it in the kosher aisle of normal grocery stores.
I bought some, and yesterday I used it, trying to recreate the salad I had with some nice cool touches for summertime. Since I’ve only used it the one time, I can’t guarantee that what I’ll write about here will be consistent every time Israeli couscous is used, but this time it turned out pretty well, so that’s what I’ll write about.
I followed the package directions, which called for one and a quarter cups of water for every cup of grain, and to simmer for 8-10 minutes covered. When it was ready I found that it was a little gummy, so I stirred in some olive oil and put it in the fridge to chill. When I took it out a few hours later, it was stuck together in one enormous lump, but when I broke it up with my fingers, the grains came apart fairly easily without breaking. The salad I made with it follows.
The dressing I used is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I consider it part and parcel of the recipe for the salad in general, so hopefully that will get me out of violating copyright. 🙂 It’s a book I highly recommend you spend money on, if you can or want to.
Cous-Cool Summer Salad
Approx. 2 cups of cooked Israeli couscous (about 1 cup prior to cooking)
1/2 cucumber, chopped into quarter slices or smaller pieces
About 2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped very fine
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp lime juice (fresh would be nice, but bottled is okay)
Zest from one lime, if using fresh
5-6 tbsp sunflower oil or light olive oil
2 tsp dried mint or 2 tbsp fresh
2 scallions, chopped, including 1 inch of the greens
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and allow the flavors to meld for a few minutes as you chop the other ingredients. Mix together the salad ingredients, breaking up the couscous grains as best as possible. Add the dressing, salt and pepper to taste, mix, and enjoy.
This is not the salad I made, this is a different one. Click on the image for the credit (a food blog).