Saturday, June 2, 2012

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Citrus

If winter weighs us down with heavy meals and darkness, summer is just the opposite. In winter, we tend to pile things on which includes extra clothing and extra helpings of food. But summer is all about light, in both senses of that word. Lots of sunshine. Reducing and shedding. Becoming less: Less clothing. Less stress.

The same goes with summer food. No one wants to be burdened with a full stomach of beef stew and dumplings in the middle of summer.  No one wants the doziness of a nap  after a heavy meal when it's still light outside and there is still so much to do!

Summer's bounty is all about fresh fruits and vegetables. They become our kitchen bounty for only a few months. Nature knows our needs during the warmest time of the year.

This "salad" or side is light but not bland. As an accompaniment to, say, grilled salmon, it's a real winner. Try to use an "authentic" curry powder. I get one from World Market that I love. 

Feel free to add other dried fruits, such as apricots. Even apples. That combination would be great with a grilled pork tenderloin. It's a forgiving recipe.

This also works as a great side for ham or lamb. Its festive colors are perfect for a quick Christmas sidedish. 

  • 1, 10 oz. box plain, instant couscous
  • Chicken stock (optional)
  • 2 tsp. mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries and/or part raisins, golden raisins
  • 1/2 - 3/4 orange, squeezed
  • Orange zest to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced, fresh parsley
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Black Pepper

Half the amount of water called for on the couscous box directions and add half chicken stock to measure full amount. Bring to a boil.

Cut the orange in half. Then cut each half in half again. I think quarters are just easier to squeeze. Juice 3 of the quarters and save the remaining quarter for zest.

In a large (heatproof) bowl, mix the dried couscous with the curry powder, sugar, salt, dried fruit. Pour in hot liquid. Add the fresh orange juice. Stir to combine and cover with cling film for about five minutes or so until water is absorbed.

Uncover couscous mixture and fluff with fork. Add chopped, green onions, lemon juice, several grates of garlic, olive oil, parsley and, if desired, several grates of orange peel. Mix. Give just a sprinkle of Cayenne pepper to add a bit of heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and allow to rest for about an hour so the flavors marry. Uncover, mix, taste and re-adjust seasonings, if necessary. 

This also works well as a cold, refrigerated salad. I had mine with a side of fresh shrimp.