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Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta

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Serves three.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 99

Quick-to-cook couscous cakes make this meatless main-course salad satisfying.

For the dressing:
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the couscous cakes:
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1-1/2 tsp.)
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
For the salad:
  • 8 oz. baby spinach, washed and dried (about 6 lightly packed cups)
  • 1 14-oz. can artichoke bottoms, drained, rinsed, and sliced
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta (about 1/4 cup)
Make the dressing:

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, sour cream, and mint. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the couscous cakes:

Put the couscous and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover the bowl with a pan lid or plate, and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and 1 tsp. salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Stir in the chickpea mixture, eggs, and lemon zest until well combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4-cup measure, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture to make 9 cakes.

Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add 5 of the couscous cakes to the skillet and use a spatula to lightly flatten the cakes so they’re about 3/4 inch thick. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil to the skillet and cook the remaining cakes the same way.

Assemble the salad:

In a large bowl, toss the spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes with about three-quarters of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and divide among 3 large plates. Top each salad with 3 couscous cakes, sprinkle each salad with feta, and drizzle with the remaining dressing.

Serving Suggestions

Phyllo Chips with Vanilla Ice Cream & Strawberry Mash Dip makes the perfect dessert.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 710; Fat (g): fat g 44; Fat Calories (kcal): 390; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 8; Protein (g): protein g 20; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 24; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 63; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 9; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1580; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 155; Fiber (g): fiber g 9;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Very good. Light yet filling. Agree with other reviewers in regard to two issues. 1.) the dressing was a bit too tart for my liking. When making this the next time I reduced the amount of lemon juice. 2) the couscous cakes did seem "flat" when made according to the recipe. I have made these several times now and I now add a generous tablespoon of za'atar to the cake mixture before forming into shape and cooking.

An original idea for a salad that tasted very good. I did alter the seasoning of the cakes a tad, though, because I thought they tasted a little flat -I added a drizzle of honey, a drizzle of rice vinegar and a little olive oil, and I thought it helped round up the flavor. And the dressing was too sour for my liking so again, I added a little honey and a sprinkling of coriander. We did enjoy the results, and I thought the couscous cakes were very fun to make!

I haven't tried this yet but am wondering if we think the cous cous cakes could be made ahead and frozen to be cooked later. I work in a restaurant that offers trout cakes that we make in batches and freeze to be cooked later; we also try to have good veggie alternatives and I think if these would hold up they would be a great alternative. Any thoughts/experiences?

The dressing is a key part of this recipe. It was very good.

Delicious! As suggested by previous reviewers, I used a bit less lemon juice and added a tsp of honey, greek yogurt, and sliced cucumbers. The dressing came out fantastic. Also--worked well with mixed greens. Thanks to all the reviewers for their suggestions.

Absolutely wonderful. We've made the couscous cakes again to serve with shrimp. They're a versatile (and delicious) recipe to have around.

I loved this recipe. I subbed greek yogurt for the sour cream and used goat cheese instead of feta.

I loved this dish! My mint is hybernating so I used a pinch of ground ginger instead in the dressing, and I didn't find it sour at all. I left out the artichokes to save money, and didn't miss them. I was very stingy with the salt; next time I might add a small pinch of soysauce to the couscous cakes.

I made this for dinner last night. Lovely salad. I agree the dressing was a little sour, but I think I had more than the 2T of lemon juice. I also used quinoa instead of couscous. We loved the cakes, but next time I think I would add some of the feta (or blue cheese would be good, too) to the cakes as well, to kick up the flavor a notch. They were a tad bland. We'll definitely have this again.

This was an excellent vegetarian meal. I would add some pine nuts and cucumber to the salad. The artichoke bottoms were a little tough - it might be good to poach them in broth before using in the salad - I don't remember using them straight out of the can in any recipes I have made before.

My husband & I loved this salad. It's fresh & flavorful. I did use whole wheat couscous, Egg Beaters for the egg and reduced fat Feta. Some slice & halved cucumber was a nice addition. Also I found the dressing a little bit sour, so I added a couple of teaspoons of honey. We don't use alot of dressing on my salad so it was very good with far less than the portion allowed.

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