Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Kind of Couscous?

When I first began catering regularly, I kept things pretty simple and relied on a few tried and true recipes.  Now that I’ve developed a little ‘system’, I’m starting to branch out more in terms of trying new recipes.  Some have worked better than others (I generally judge the level of success by how much, or little, is left over), but there have definitely been some hands down favorites, especially in the area of sides.

My approach has been to put myself in the shoes of the people I’m feeding.  I know when I walk up to a buffet line and see yet another tray of cold cuts with the obligatory potato salad alongside, I want to stifle a yawn.  So especially when it comes to side salads, I want to offer something a bit more enticing.

I had a number of people comment about this salad after the last lunch I did.  Several wanted to know what type of pasta it was (“I thought it was some kind of couscous, but I’ve never seen it that big before”, “Was that what’s-it-called??  Kwin-Oh-Ah??”).  Most just commented on how tasty it was.

As an added bonus, I reserved about half of the dressing I made for this and used it as a marinade for chicken thighs, which I grilled and put on skewers.

And the crowd went wild.


Greco Israeli Couscous Salad


1/2 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 - 3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried ground oregano
3 cloves fresh garlic, mashed into a paste with 1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a glass jar. Cover and shake well.  Or, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until emulsified.


3 cups water
1 ½ cups dry Israeli Couscous
¼ tsp salt
1 cup Chinese snow peas
½ medium English cucumber, cubed
½ cup sliced green onions
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ - ½ cup Dressing (to taste)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Add salt and the couscous.  Stir and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until couscous is just tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients, except for dressing, in a large bowl.  Add the cooled couscous and stir to combine.  Add ¼ cup of the dressing and toss.  Add more dressing if needed.  Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

** To make ahead of time, make dressing and store separately.  Combine all salad ingredients, except for the feta and basil.  Just before serving, add the feta, basil and dressing.  Toss to combine.

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