A healthy and satisfying couscous salad with a wonderful flavor and packed full of healthy ingredients. Quick to assemble, it’s perfect for taking to work for lunch or enjoying as a versatile side dish. There’s a story behind the creation of this dish. My husband I went on our usual Friday night date last Friday. I’m still on my post indulgent-end-of-2013 diet to shed the few extra pounds I put on during those moments of holiday weakness. So going out to eat wasn’t really an option and I usually wince at the thought of going to a restaurant just to eat a plate of leaves. Come on, if I’m going to spend money to eat out it needs to be REAL food. But I was also starving. So here’s what happened:
Before we moved on to the “date” portion of the night we had to pick up a couple of groceries from the store. So we did that first to get it out of the way. While in the store I had the thought to check the deli out. With tons of various salads and things to choose from I thought, “Perfect!” I solved our date night dinner quandary. My husband got a deli sandwich and I got a tiny bit of four different relatively low fat/low cal salads. Four different things to eat – awesome! A small serving of each that added up to a meal.
We took the food back to the car, drove to a peaceful place, and enjoyed our impromptu date night meal while listening to music and talking. It was really nice. Anyway…long story short, one of the salads I chose was a curried couscous salad. I don’t tend to get overly excited about most grain-type salads, but this one was excellent. I knew I had to reproduce it in my own kitchen. So I had a couple of bites and left a few bites remaining so that I could take it home and use it to do numerous taste comparisons as I developed my copycat recipe. The end result had mine and my husband’s seal of approval and it’s a delicious copycat. The only difference: The store-bought salad used dried currants. I didn’t have any on hand so I used raisins instead. You can use either. What do you think?
This couscous salad is perfect as a light lunch or as a side with dinner. My husband took it to work with him for lunch two days in a row and loved it.
Let’s get started! A ton of healthy ingredients go into this salad: Garbanzo beans, carrots, celery, parsley, green onions, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, honey, raisins (or dried currants if you prefer), curry powder (this one’s the best bang for your buck), and turmeric (both of which contain medicinal properties). And if you want to take it a step further, use whole grain couscous.
Couscous is semolina, or granules of durum wheat. It’s a traditional Berber dish and is a staple throughout North Africa (think Moroccan cuisine). To prepare it, simply add the water to a medium saucepan along with the salt and olive oil, bring to a boil, add the couscous, immediately turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, fluff with a fork and place it in a very large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Finely shred the carrot. I like the visual look of fine strands of carrot so I used a special mandolin for that purpose. Use whatever you have on hand.
Very finely chop the celery and green onion. You don’t want large crunchy chunks in the salad.
Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Set aside.
Add all the veggies, the parsley, raisins and garbanzo beans to the couscous. Look at that beautiful array of colors and nutrients.
Stir to combine, then pour the dressing over it, about 1/3 at a time, stirring between additions to combine the salad.
That’s it! The couscous absorbs the color of the curry and turmeric beautifully.
Cover the couscous with a lid or plastic wrap. Because of the vinegar/acid content, make sure it’s in either a glass or plastic bowl. Refrigerate overnight for best results. The flavors need time to meld.
This couscous salad is perfect as a light lunch or as a side with dinner. Enjoy it along with some grilled chicken or fish.
- 2 cups uncooked couscous (you can also use whole wheat couscous)
- 1 cup finely shredded carrot
- ¾ cup finely chopped celery
- 3 green onions, finely sliced
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup canned drained garbanzo beans
- ½ cup raisins or dried currants
- 1-2 tablespoons finely minced preserved lemon (optional but fabulous)
- For the Dressing:
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey (Vegans: use agave nectar)
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon vegetable broth powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare the couscous, bring 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil to a boil in a medium saucepan. As soon as it's boiling, add the couscous, immediately turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and put it in a very large mixing bowl. Set
- Add all veggies, parsley, garbanzo beans, raisins/currants and preserved lemon to the couscous and stir to combine.
- To prepare the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the couscous salad, ⅓ at a time, stirring to combine between additions. Cover and refrigerate overnight so the flavors have time to meld. Because of the vinegar/acid content, use a glass or plastic bowl.
- Serve as a light lunch or as a side dish along with chicken, fish, etc.