05 March 2008

Moroccan Couscous Salad

To go with the roast chicken dinner this weekend I decided to keep with the Mediterranean theme and make a couscous salad. The current issue of Cuisine at Home had a recipe for Moroccan Couscous Salad that looked great- it was gorgeous, full of vegetables and the best part- I could make it before anyone arrived and serve it at room temperature. It seemed like a winning combination to me. I made a few modifications to the recipe along the way, to accommodate the Israeli style couscous I had on had (and that I knew one of my friends prefers) and to reduce the fat and up the flavor content a bit.  I used minimal oil to roast the vegetables and toasted the spices to refresh their flavor (mine have been in the cabinet for a while- if you have very fresh spices you may want to use a bit less).  The salad was a hit- the cumin and coriander gave it a deep flavor and a bit of cayenne pepper added some heat. The roasted veggies had a sweet flavor that balanced out the spice. The best part- there was even enough leftover for me to have for lunch the next day.

Moroccan Couscous Salad

Serves 8 as a side, 4-5 as a main course

For the veggies
1 lb. baby carrots, cut into 1 in. chunks (not the bullet shaped ones in the plastic bags but thin, young carrots, if you can find them)
1 large red onion, cut into large cubes
3-4 small yellow squash, cut into 1 in. cubes (about 4 cups) 

olive oil, salt and pepper

For the couscous
8 oz. Israeli style couscous
2 t. olive oil
1.5 t. cumin
1.5 t. coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper, according to taste
juice and zest of one lemon
1/4 c. honey
2  c. vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 c. chopped parseley
2/3 c. raisins

- Preheat oven to 450F. Put a large baking sheet into the cold oven to heat up. Meanwhile, toss the carrots with just enough olive oil to coat them, salt and pepper. When the oven comes to temp, carefully spread the carrots out on the baking dish. Bake for 5 minutes.

- Toss the onion and squash in the same bowl you used for the carrots, adding just enough oil to coat and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add them to the carrots, making one even layer of veggies in the pan. Roast for about 20 more minutes, stirring once or twice, until the carrots are tender and the veggies are starting to brown.

- While the vegetables are roasting, juice the lemon into a large measuring cup (you'll need the zest so you might want to grate it off first), add the honey and then add enough broth to equal two cups.

- Heat a saucepan over medium, add the olive oil and spices. Toast for a minute or two. Add the couscous and stir till the couscous is coated and slightly toasted. Pour in the liquid and bring to a boil; cove and cook for 8 minutes.

- Gently mix the couscous, roasted vegetables, raisins and parsley in your serving bowl. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


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kittie said...

Yum - this looks lovely! A nice blast of summer amongst all the March rain :)

Jen said...

Kittie-- that's really what I was going for- by March I get so tired of heavy winter food I just wanted something light and with different flavors...

Neen said...

I like the idea of roasting the veggies... question though: whenever my family mae coucous salad, it always ended up dissapointingly dry. Does roasting the veggies in your recipe take care of that?

Jen said...

Hi Neen-

The salad definitely wasn't dry, although it didn't really have a dressing to it, like a traditional pasta salad would. You cook the couscous in the broth, spices and oil so it gets a lot of flavor and the oil prevents it drying out too much. The veggies were really moist and tender from the roasting too which gave a good contrast of textures.

I could see having a dry salad be much more of a problem using North African style couscous that is very small- that has always seemed sort of dry to me, especially when it's left over.