A vibrant herb pesto brings this healthy side, which is loaded with veggies, to life.
By Chris Scheuer
So you’re going to an end-of-summer or back-to-school potluck, you know there’ll be an array of the typical high-fat, over-processed foods and you want to make a statement that great nutrition can have fabulous flavor as well. Or maybe you’ve just overdone it lately on junk food. Perhaps you’re trying to feed your family more healthy, without sacrificing deliciousness. Well, you’ve come to the right place for sure!! This delicious Couscous Salad comes together quickly, is loaded with great healthy, fresh ingredients and has a burst of vibrant flavor with every bite. It makes a wonderful side dish for any type of meat, poultry or seafood but can also be a meal on its own. Sound good?
If you’re not familiar with couscous, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. Couscous is a fine-grained pasta and is a staple in the African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. It’s also a favorite in Sicily and France and has grown in popularity in recent years in the United States. On it’s own, it can be fairly bland but I like to think of it as a blank palette; a starch that can take on a myriad of flavors and personalities.
With the herb garden overflowing at this time of the year, I snipped basil and parsley and threw together a pesto. Along with the summer herbs, I added cilantro, parmesan cheese, a handful of pistachios, fresh lemon juice and a splash of extra virgin olive oil. A whirl in the food processor produced a vibrantly green pesto that brought my plain, simple couscous to life.
The markets are abundant right now with with fabulous summer produce. I added fresh corn, baby arugula, red and green onion along with a generous handful of edamame (I love to keep this healthy veggie in the freezer year round) and a scatter of pistachios on top. The results are delicious; we enjoyed this with pan-seared, boneless chicken breasts and we’re loving it for wonderful healthy lunches all week long. It will feed a crowd but also makes great leftovers served warm or at room temperature.
Feel free to adapt the veggies in this salad according to the market and what looks best. Zucchini, diced and lightly sautéed would be delicious as would roasted peppers, cauliflower, squash and/or eggplant. A sprinkle of Feta rounds out the flavors deliciously, if desired. You decide, it’s wide open, but I think you’ll find the recipe’s a keeper!
- 1 ½ cups couscous
- 2 ¼ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh basil, packed
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, packed
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup pistachios
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1½ cups couscous
- 2¼ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs
- 1 cup frozen edamame, cooked according to package directions
- ½ cup finely diced red onion
- 4 medium green (spring) onions, finely sliced
- 2 cups baby arugula
- ¾ cup crumbled Feta cheese, optional
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- pistachios and lemon slices or wedges for garnish
- Place couscous in a large bowl. Bring broth to a boil on stove top or in microwave. Pour hot broth over couscous and stir to combine. Immediately cover couscous tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for 10 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork. Cover again with plastic wrap and set aside till ready to use.
- While couscous is resting, combine basil, cilantro, parsley, garlic, pistachios and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 2-3 minutes or until everything is finely minced. Add olive oil, lemon juice and water and mix again until well combined. If mixture is still quite thick, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water.
- Add pesto to bowl with couscous. Stir well to combine and incorporate all of the pesto. Add corn, edamame, red onion, green onion and arugula*. Str gently to combine. Place on individual plates or on a large serving platter. Scatter pistachios over the top. Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with Feta, if desired. Serve with lemon slices or wedges.
Crescentia "Chris" Scheuer is the creator of The Café Sucré Farine food blog, which has been hugely successful since its inception in March 2011. Her recipes are seen on Foodgawker, TasteSpotting, Gourmet Live, Bon Appétit Bloggers, Foodista and other international food sites. Her inspiration for creating new, innovative cuisine comes from an insatiable curiosity, a love of travel and family connections in the UK. She has taught cooking classes in Raleigh, NC, USA.