Google “go to” and this is what pops up: relied on or frequently sought out in a particular situation. I know what your thinking. Why the hell did she google “go to,” seems pretty self-explanatory. Your right, it is. Lately, I need affirmation in the most basic of situations from the all-powerful oracle that is Google. Three kids later and my brain is mush. With the definition now confirmed, I discovered I have a lot of “go tos” ( is that a word?) especially when it comes to food. There is my go to chocolate birthday cake, wow this is good mac and cheese, bad day soup, and just had a baby oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. (My list is long, certain foods perfectly matched with particular circumstances are all neatly categorized in my head. I don’t want to bore you.)
After making Cook’s Illustrated Israeli Couscous salad with lemon, mint, peas, feta and pickled shallots, I now have a serve to company when needing praise or bring to a cookout and watch it disappear salad. I love when one awesome recipe works well for many occasions.
I love every piece of this savory salad: the candied pickled shallots, salty feta, peppery arugula, bright lemon juice, unexpected bite of mint, the tender couscous and the sweet peas that just look so pretty sitting next to the purple shallots. I made this salad many times this summer. No one complained. Usually all that remained was a lone slice of shallot, a fallen bit of arugula or a smear of feta. I relished the empty bowl. Gotta love a go to.
Israeli Couscous Salad with Lemon, Mint, Peas, Feta and Pickled Shallots
recipe barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated July/August 2015
Ingredients for Couscous:
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2+1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Using a medium saucepan, heat couscous and oil over medium heat for about 6 minutes or until the grains are golden brown.
Add water and salt, stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove pan from heat and let stand, still covered for a few minutes. Next, grab a baking sheet. Spread the couscous in a single layer and cool. Set aside.
Ingredients for salad:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt and pepper
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for finishing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces or 4 cups of baby arugula, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn (add more mint, if you love it.)
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup feta cheese
In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add shallots, stir, cover and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Drain and roughly chop shallots. Set aside.
Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, red pepper flakes, and salt in a large bowl. Add couscous, arugula, mint, peas, 1/2 cup feta and shallots. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a pretty bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of feta. Add a squeeze of lemon juice over the salad. Serve chilled or at room temperature. This salad is best the day it is made, but does make nice leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Enjoy!
**Pickle shallots before making couscous to save time. Just set aside until ready to use. Also, cooling the couscous on a baking sheet is key. If you allow it to cool in the bowl it will get mushy. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped. If you want some crunch, add them! Worried about a nut allergy? Leave them out.**
5 Salads for September
I head to Cookie + Kate over and over again when I am looking for a feel good salad. Kate’s latest quinoa salad is on my must make list. Yum!
Tired of zucchini bread? Make Fix Feast and Flair’s cold pasta salad with zucchini, fennel and fresh mozzarella.
Use the last of summer’s peaches for Love & Olive Oil’s peach and roasted vegetable salad.
Need a quick school night meal that even your kids might like? Check out A Dash of Sanity’s kale and tortellini pasta salad. I made this a couple of weeks ago and the kids kinda liked it!
Fall is almost here. When butternut squash is abundant, make What’s Gabby Cooking? roasted butternut squash salad.