We went to a little neighborhood shrimp feed last month. Each of us brought a side dish or a dessert and a pound of shrimp. The Shrimp Guys boiled it up in different spice mixtures along with potatoes and corn on the cob. It was a good thing. So good, we are all going to get together and do it again in two weeks.
I took a Peach Crumble and the Mister did brownies. My favorite dish of the night was Mark’s Couscous Salad. In fact, it was pretty much everyone’s favorite dish. Mark emailed me the recipe and I made it this week. He told me he had not toasted the couscous since he had doubled the recipe, but was pretty sure toasting would make a difference….a good difference. And, it did.
I combined his recipe along with the recipe on the box of couscous and came up with this recipe. We loved it. The toasting gave it a little bit of texture and nuttiness. Toasting improves a lot of things: marshmallows, bread crumbs, hashbrowns, onions, nuts, and more! Please do not skip that step.
Mark’s Toasted Couscous
with adaptations by Gravy Girl
Serves about 8-10 as a side dish, serves about 4-6 as a main dish.
- 1 10 ounce box (1 1/4 cups) couscous, I used Near East brand
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil, whatever kind you like for cooking
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 small or 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
- 1 rib of celery, diced small
- 5 or 6 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves (a good handful of basil, then finely chop it)
- 1/3 cup olive oil, whatever kind you like for salad dressings
- zest and juice from 1/2 large lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the couscous: Bring the chicken stock and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and empty the box of couscous into the boiling stock. Give it a stir, put a lid on it and let it just sit for about 5 or 6 minutes. Now, stir, using a fork and be sure to break up any clumps. I believe the technical term is fluffing. If it isn’t, it should be. Fluff away!
Now, for the toasting: Use a large non-stick skillet. On medium heat, heat up the 1/4 cup of olive oil along with the garlic. After about two minutes, remove the garlic and discard. You have just made garlic enhanced oil. Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it? At this point, turn up the heat to hotter. About medium/high or a tish higher. Add the cooked couscous and cook and stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Stop the stirring and let the couscous get a bit of color. I would check it every 3 or 4 minutes or so. Then stir. Wait again for about 3 or 4 minutes and then stir again. Do this until you have a good mixture of golden, toasted couscous. I did it for about 15 minutes. You can go longer if you want…..just do not burn the couscous or else you will have to pitch it. Toasty is good, burned is bad.
Dump the toasty goodness into a large bowl. Give it a stir and let it cool off a bit. You don’t want to melt the cheese or cook the veggies. When it has cooled enough, gently stir in the cheeses and veggies.
For the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients until smooth. Pour over the salad and gently toss until coated. Serve well chilled. It is even better the next day.
Is this not the freshest, most yummy looking salad?
The world famous Gravy Company disclaimer: I do solemnly swear, that I, the Gravy Girl, girl of gravy fame known throughout the land, have never been contacted by the couscous people of Near East to promote their lovely product. I do also swear that I did, indeed, tell them how much I loved their product!