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Spicy & Citrusy Couscous Salad

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Serves six as a side dish.

Yields about 5 cups.

When I make this for picnics, I prepare it the night before, refrigerate it, and serve it cool the next day.

  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low-salt chicken broth, or water
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch saffron threads (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp. harissa or 2 to 3 dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth or water, paprika, saffron (if using), harissa or hot sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of white pepper to a boil over medium heat. Cover and reduce the heat to low to keep the broth at a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and red pepper and cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned, 8 to 10 min. Add the couscous and stir to coat the grains with oil. Remove  the pan from heat. Add the simmering liquid to the couscous and stir to evenly distribute the liquid. Cover the pan and let it sit until all the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender, 5 to 7 min. Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork. Set aside to cool for 15 min.

Whisk the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil with the orange zest, orange juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Toss with the couscous. Let cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Put the scallions, almonds, dried currants, and parsley in a separate container and refrigerate.

Just before heading to the picnic, stir the scallions, almonds, currants, and parsley into the couscous. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 346; Fat (g): fat g 21; Fat Calories (kcal): 189; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3; Protein (g): protein g 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 34; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 308; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Easy and unbelievably good.

My husband didn't like this salad, but I count him as an anomaly. It was a hit at a potluck picnic. When I collected our container at the end of the meal, I found it nearly empty, while the other containers were at least half full.

This is really delicious with lots of different flavours and textures. It's also an easy make ahead dish which is great for entertaining many at a time.

Couscous is always fast. This recipe's combination of herbs and orange creates a refreshing and bright dish. Perfect, perfect for summer -- great for a picnic, or barbecue.

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