08 February 2008

Quinoa Couscous Salad

Last night I needed to cook dinner but I also needed to get to the gym, desperately. I wanted to make something before I left that we could eat at room temperature when I got back. The protein was taken care of, or rather would be since Zach could put a piece of salmon into the oven while I was gone, so we just needed something to have on the side. I thought couscous, in a salad form, with some peppers that I nabbed from a catered event at work.

Once I got home I realized that the bag of Israeli couscous was nearly empty so I decided to make the salad with couscous and quinoa. Quinoa (keen-wah) is a grain originally from the Andes that has become sort of hip lately. It's very small and round and cooks quickly, plus is one of the most complete vegetarian protein sources out there. It doesn't have much of a taste on its own so its a good substitute for white rice or other starch, especially if you're looking for a bit more fiber and protein... but let me get back to dinner.

I rinsed the quinoa and started it cooking in enough water for it and the couscous (which I added part way through the cooking). While that was going, I sauteed some onion and then added red, yellow and orange bell pepper, which cooked just for a few minutes, so it would retain its color or texture. To dress the salad, I made a lemon vinaigrette. When the grains and pasta finished cooking (I left them a bit on the al dente side since they were going to sit for at least an hour before dinner) I mixed them into the veggies, added the vinaigrette, threw in some raisins for sweetness, then literally ran out the door to get to class at the gym.

When I got home the salmon was just coming out of the oven and the salad had cooled to room temperature. It was bright without being overly acidic and light- it would make a great lunch on top of some mixed greens. You could even add some chopped parsley (which I didn't have on hand) or feta (which I did have but forgot about) for some added color or flavor.

Quinoa Couscous Salad

For the salad:
1 C. quinoa
1 C. Israeli style couscous
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, your choice of colors, cut into short, fat strips
2 t. herbs de provance
2 t. olive oil
2 handfulls of raisins

For the dressing:
Juice of one lemon
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. mustard
1 t. honey
1 t. herbs de provance
salt and pepper to taste

- Rise the quinoa (if your brand calls for it) and add it to a saucepan along with the recommended ammount of water to cook it and the couscous. (ex. my couscous calls for 2 C. of water per 1 C. quinoa AND the couscous needs 1 C. water for 1 C. couscous, so I added 3 C. water to the pan.

- Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Wait 4 minutes and then add the couscous and replace the lid. Set your kitchen timer to 9 minutes

- Meanwhile heat the olive oil for the salad in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it becomes translucent. Add the bell pepper and herbs and cook for another 2 minutes.

- While the onion and pepper cooks, wisk all the ingredients for the salad together.

- When the timer goes off, add the quinoa/couscous mixture to the veggies and pour the dressing on top and toss in the raisins. Mix well.

- Serve hot or at room temperature as a side or over some mixed greens for a light supper or lunch.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I like quinoa, but I don't cook much with it as I am not a real lover of grains - unless it is in bread form! I bet it tasted really good mixed with couscous!

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

Jen said...

Hi Jenn-

I am really trying to branch out and eat things besides pasta/bread/rice as a carbohydrate even though I have recently dusted off the bread machine and have been making a lot of break lately!