Set Sail for the Mediterranean!

January 20, 2011

Courtney's Mediterranean Couscous

Once upon a time I used to make this meal a couple of times a week. Then I wandered a bit, trying new things, new flavors, and I no longer had time for my tried and true couscous recipe. This week I decided to bring it back, and I’m glad I did. I missed you so, couscous salad.

I first started making this dish when I stumbled upon Near East couscous in the store. I decided to give it a whirl, and given the Mediterranean bent to the flavors (garlic, olive oil) I decided to top this with a Mediterranean salad, and a bit of chicken for good measure. My first try was a success! The flavors were sublime, and this became a household favorite. The great thing about this recipe is it’s versatility. You can load up on veggies and make it more of a salad by doubling the vegetable amounts, swap out proteins to make it vegetarian, or even leave them off altogether for a vegan variation. And you can easily do this per person you are serving.

While I first made this with Near East couscous, I’ve also made up my own spice mix to throw in with regular couscous I’ve picked up at Trader Joe’s or in my gluten-free version made with quinoa. Simply adding dried parsley, salt, garlic and onion powders, and a little olive oil to the boiling water makes a near match for the Near East couscous. See the details in the gluten free alternative at the bottom of the recipe.

Courtney’s Mediterranean Couscous & Salad
Serves 4
Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan alternatives listed at bottom of recipe

One box of Near East Couscous, Garlic & Olive Oil flavor
12 radishes, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
4 to 5 ounces spinach, cut into chiffonade
Olive oil
1/2 small lemon
Salt and pepper
Grilled Chicken or Grilled Haloumi (I like using Paul Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic to season the chicken)

Cook the couscous according to package directions (or follow my steps above if flavoring your own). Divide the couscous among four plates. Mix the radishes through the spinach on a cutting board. Drizzle olive oil and squeeze lemon juice over the salad mixture (~ 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil) and season well with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix, and top each plate of couscous with 1/4 of the salad. Top with chicken or haloumi, and serve.

This meal goes great with a sparkling lemonade!

Gluten free alternative: Instead of using couscous, pick up a bag of quinoa. Put 1 cup of quinoa; 2 cups of water; 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, salt, and onion powder; 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley; and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot, bringing to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow the rest of the recipe as is.

Vegan alternative: I love this meal as more of a salad just as much as I love it as I’ve posted it above. Simply double the vegetable amounts, but keep the couscous or quinoa amount the same. Toss it all together so the warm couscous warms the root veggies and spinach slightly, and you have a very filling and fiber-filled meal!

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