Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Israeli Couscous and Roasted Vegetable Salad

The other day Hannah from Bittersweet posted a delicious looking recipe for a cold couscous salad.  It looked so good and I loved the idea of making a great big grain salad that I could prepare in advance and have ready for a few quick meals during the week.  I immediately printed out the recipe so I could get to work gathering my ingredients.  When I realized that I was missing half of the dressing ingredients and would have to go to either Whole Foods or Zerbo's to get them, I decided to hold off and make it another time.  But I couldn't stop thinking about a couscous salad.  I decided to use her idea as an inspiration, along with some roasting suggestions from various places online and Susan V's Roasted Baby Tomatoes recipe, to create my own dish.  

I must admit, this was rather time-consuming since my oven isn't big enough to roast all the vegetables at once and I had to do it in two rounds.  Had I been feeling less grill-shy I would have grilled the veggies instead, which would be quicker and would heat the house less.  But although it's a bit more work up front, it will make for easy meals later in the week.

I didn't add any oil or dressing to the salad because the veggies were so flavorful on their own.  The only oil comes from what I used to roast the veggies.  If you want to go oil-free, you could roast them on parchment paper but you won't get that caramelized flavor.  This recipe can be easily modified based on your tastes and what vegetables and herbs you have.  I like the hearty Israeli couscous but you could substitute a different grain, such as quinoa, rice, or faro. We ate this as a main dish with a raw kale salad on the side.  (The kale came from our Living Stones CSA.)  It would also be a nice side dish with tofu or tempeh.

Israeli Couscous & Roasted Vegetable Salad
(printable recipe)


3-4 summer squash, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1 inch slices
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
Sweet onion (such as Vidalia), sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1-2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ cups Israeli couscous (I used tri-color)
1 can (14 oz.) vegetable broth

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
Fresh basil leaves, torn


For the squash, peppers, and onions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray two large baking sheets with olive oil.
2. On one sheet, lay the squash slices in a single layer.  Spray lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Repeat with the peppers and onions on the other baking sheet.
4. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables begin to get brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the tomatoes and garlic

1. While the veggies are roasting, prep the tomatoes and garlic.  Spray a glass baking dish with olive oil.  Add tomatoes in a single layer.  Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
2. When the other veggies are done, turn up the oven to 450 degrees F.  Roast the tomatoes for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and gently press each tomato with the back of a spoon to smash.  Allow to cool.

For the couscous

1.  While the veggies are roasting, bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.
2. Add the couscous, stir, and lower heat to simmer.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times, until liquid has been absorbed.
3. Pour couscous into a mesh sieve and rinse with cool water.  Drain well and put it into a large serving bowl.

Putting it all together

When cool, add roasted veggies (along with any juice from the tomatoes) to couscous.  Add chickpeas and pine nuts.  Stir well.  Add fresh basil to taste.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  

Makes about 8 cups.

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