While away on vacation I literally ate and drank everything in sight. Every morning we had eggs, bacon, and biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Some mornings there were even pancakes added to the mix. Then there were the racks of ribs, the crazy good filet mignon, and the one-pound baked potatoes. Let's not forget about the pizza, the burgers, the macaroni and cheese, the brownies, or the cookies. Couple all that food along with wine, margaritas, and the moonshine and I think you can imagine how I feel. I need to detox. In a major way.
My body is craving light dishes filled to the brim with veggies, grains, and you guessed it......beans! If you haven't noticed it by now, I am a total bean fanatic. When I settled on the recipe for this couscous salad I immediately knew I would have to make some changes to accommodate my cravings. First, and most importantly, I knew I had to add a can of chickpeas. It was a no brainer. I also knew I would sub zucchini in place of the cucumber (just because it's what I had on hand). In addition to that, I subbed parsley for the mint (no one in my family enjoys mint besides me). This salad originally called for only 3 tablespoons of lemon juice which after tasting, was nowhere near enough lemon, so I doubled the amount of lemon juice to 6 tablespoons. Six tablespoons of lemon is right around the perfect amount. However, if you really enjoy a strong lemon flavor then I would suggest adding between 6-8 tablespoons of lemon. Lastly, this salad benefits from the addition of salt, quite a bit of salt. I found myself tasting and adding salt. Tasting again and adding more salt, etc.
I really enjoyed this salad. I loved the bright flavors and all the different textures, as well as the lovely little chunks of goat cheese. I found this salad hearty and filling yet light at the same time. My Mom, however, did not enjoy it at all. She's decided that she is not a fan of couscous. She said she felt like she was eating a salad made with breadcrumbs. Then she preceded to pick out all the veggies and beans, leaving the couscous on the plate. The kids thought it was pretty funny to see Grandma pushing her couscous aside on the plate. She's not likely to live it down anytime soon.
Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros
1 & 2/3 cups couscous (I used a green spinach couscous)
About 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (tomatoes chopped into bite sized pieces, oil reserved)
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 small zucchini (quartered and chopped into bite-sized pieces)
5 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil (or used reserved sun-dried tomato oil)
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
quite a bit of salt and pepper
Put the couscous in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add a splash of the oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes and 2 cups of just-boiled water. Stir, cover, and let cool completely, fluffing it up gently now and then, so that the bottom does not become stiff.
Add the zucchini, scallions, chickpeas, parsley, and lemon juice to the couscous. Add the tomatoes and the rest of their oil, topping off the 1/3 cup with regular olive oil if there is not enough from the tomatoes, and stir well. Add the goat cheese and stir in carefully, especially if it is soft. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and serve.
Couscous is one of those things that you either love or hate.
How do you feel about couscous?
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