Israeli couscous is one of my favorite grains for a few reasons – it’s incredibly quick (coming together in less than 15 minutes), it has a unique, fun texture, and it’s almost impossible to mess up. For those of you that are like me and constantly fight for rice to be fluffy but not-to-wet and soggy, Israeli couscous might be here just in time to save the day. The special part about this grain is that it behaves more like pasta than anything else, so it will maintain its texture no matter how much water you add. Just be sure not to overcook it!
In this dish, Israeli couscous is mixed with all of my favorite vegetables, cooked somewhat painstakingly over the grill until just tender. The key to easing the grill process here is to quarter the vegetables and cook them in large chunks, dicing them up for the salad later. This makes the vegetables easier to turn over, and drastically reduces the number of vegetables sacrificed to the hot coals.
This recipe is very flexible, and different ingredients can be swapped in and out depending on what you have on hand. Don’t like asparagus? Try eggplant instead. Like onions? Go ahead and throw them in. I encourage you to use your creative license here to make this dish your own!
Israeli Couscous with Grilled Vegetables (adapted from The Food Network)
- 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise
- 2 red peppers, quartered and seeded
- 12-14 spears of asparagus
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 cups Israeli couscous
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/4 cups water
- Couple of handfuls of basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, as this will be your main source of seasoning in the recipe.
- Cut all veggies according to the directions and add them to a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing on top. Let veggies marinade for ~15 minutes, if time allows.
- Remove veggies from the marinade and place carefully on the grill. Cook veggies until just tender, and remove from the grill. Cook cherry tomatoes in a grill pan designed for outdoor grilling (or use something similar, depending on what you have available).
- Make couscous: Add broth and water to a stockpot and bring to a boil. Pour in couscous and cover; let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until couscous appears tender but retains its texture.
- Once veggies have cooled, cut them into 1/2 inch chunks and toss into the couscous. Add remaining vinaigrette slowly, until salad is sufficiently dressed (based on your taste).
- Serve and enjoy!
There’s nothing better than a simple salad after an overindulgent Thanksgiving meal. This particular recipe shines the spotlight on cauliflower, a vegetable whose flavor and attractiveness I find to be vastly underrated.
Growing up, I only saw cauliflower in one of two ways: steamed (with absolutely no flavor) or covered in cheese (decidedly delicious, but not the healthiest of options). This cauliflower recipe takes a different turn, relying on roasting to give the vegetable an almost popcorn-like flavor.
While prepping my cauliflower for the oven, I decided to supplement the salt and pepper with a healthy dose of curry powder. Curry powders vary widely, so the variety that you choose will have a powerful impact on the flavors of this salad. I opted for one with a healthy dose of fennel seed, but I’m sure that whatever you have on hand will do.
To round out the flavors and nutrients in this salad, I combined the cauliflower with some mixed greens, quinoa, and dried cranberries. The cauliflower adds a significant amount of fiber, while the quinoa adds enough protein to make this a well-balanced vegan entree. The cranberries bring a sweet tang, which contrasts nicely with the spice of the curry. Top the salad off with some mild acid from the vinaigrette, and you have a delicious lunch – great for a lazy Sunday or a busy weekday.
Curried Cauliflower Grain Salad Recipe
- curried cauliflower florets (recipe below)
- quinoa, cooked (click here for a quick guide to cooking quinoa)
- mixed greens
- dried cranberries
- vinaigrette (recipe below)
- chopped apples (I didn’t use these, but I think they would be a fantastic addition!)
- Toss the mixed greens and quinoa in a medium bowl with the vinaigrette. Top greens with cauliflower and cranberries and serve immediately.
To Make the Curried Cauliflower
You will need:
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 – 2 tsp curry powder
- pepper, to taste
- olive oil
- fresh parsley
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine spices and cauliflower in a large bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil over cauliflower until lightly coated. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread cauliflower into a single layer.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool and top with fresh cilantro or parsley.
To Make the Vinaigrette
You will need:
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Combine ingredients in a small bowl; whisk to combine. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Those of you who know me well can attest to this: I put a great deal of thought into my meals. This isn’t restricted to dinner, when most people are comfortably at home and can whip something up on the stovetop. It’s also true of lunch, traditionally a grab-and-go meal where speed matters more than taste. Even on my busiest days, when most people would grab for a Clif bar and call it a day, I make sure to pack something healthy and hearty.
My commitment to lunch started back when I worked in a middle school in Boston. Lunch was a short period that lasted about 10-15 minutes, if I was lucky. There was no time to go out and grab a sandwich (nor were there any places to go), so I got in the habit of packing something from home. And, since it was my one break for the day, I decided to make it count.
For me, this often meant one pot meals. The recipe here was one of my best, mixing together quinoa, kale, chickpeas, and feta. A batch lasted for about 2-3 servings, making it a great dish to prepare on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The trick here is to add the kale when you’re cooking the quinoa. This makes the preparation faster and easier, and you can avoid blanching and sautéing the kale separately. Don’t skip toasting the quinoa, which adds a nice nutty flavor to the dish.
Whether you spend your time standing in front of a classroom or sitting at a desk in the office, this meal will keep you energized and satisfied until the end of the day.
Quinoa Salad with Kale, Chickpeas, and Feta Recipe (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
- olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup chickpeas, drained
- 6-8 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
- 2 tbsp golden raisins
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds
- zest and juice from half a lemon
- 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. once hot, add onions and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Add garlic, coriander, and red pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add quinoa and let cook for 3 minutes, stirring to make sure that the quinoa doesn’t burn.
- Slowly pour in the broth. Add the chickpeas and golden raisins, and top with the chopped kale. Bring broth to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid (quinoa should not be crunchy at this point).
- Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients (almonds, zest and lemon juice, and feta cheese). Salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Dish can be served warm or cold and will stay fresh in the fridge for a few days.