Couscous salad is a colorful versatile side dish that is easy to prepare and perfect to make-ahead. Cooking can be daunting for many, so it’s nice to have some killer recipes in your arsenal to bust out when the time is right. Roasted chicken goes great with this side dish and that is exactly what I was preparing for a small family gathering of 8 people! Entertaining can get expensive very quickly. So it is wise to prepare simple classic dishes that have a lot of wow factor but go easier on the wallet. I wanted to make something relatively healthy for everyone, so I opted for lemon-herb marinated chicken thighs and legs with couscous salad, cold cucumber salad, and pull-apart garlicky party bread. The dinner was fantastic and pretty easy to pull together. Most of the work was in prepping the veggies, which can always be done in advance. Fear not eager home cook- I shall post on how to make the lemon-herb marinade, cold cucumber salad, and the pull-apart bread!
For the couscous salad I prepare a box of whole wheat tabbouleh from Near East by boiling one cup of water, mixing it with the tabbouleh, and letting it sit in a sealed glass Pyrex for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. While this is sitting in the fridge I prepare a box of Near East Original Plain Couscous using 1 cup orange juice, I use Florida’s Natural OJ with ‘Most Pulp’, and 1 cup of water. You can substitute chicken stock for either of these proportions- if I had chicken stock I would have used it in place of water for more flavor. I laid the hot couscous out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to chill on the kitchen table (or if you have space in your refrigerator, pop it in to cool off). Once at room temperature or chilled begin to add the salad additions.
This makes A LOT of couscous and will easily serve 8-10. Feel free to modify this recipe to your liking. I like to add the first 5 ingredients under ‘salad additions’ to the couscous mix and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to blend in flavor. Within 30 minutes of serving the salad I add the tomatoes, mint, and almonds and then dress the salad. I find that if added early the mint looks too bruised, the almonds lose their crunch, and the tomatoes get too soft.
For couscous mix:
1 box Near East Taboule
1 cup orange juice
2 cups water, divided (or chicken stock)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
2-3 cups chopped kale (smaller pieces preferred)
1 cup Sun-Maid Golden Raisins
¾ cup thinly sliced scallions (or more if you like)
½ cup thinly sliced radishes (optional)
½ cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
20 torn mint leaves
Dress with the juice of 2 lemons
Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
½- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Boil one cup of water and add to the tabbouleh in a sealed container. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Make the couscous according to the box, replacing the 2 cups water for either orange juice or chicken stock. Let the couscous come to room temperature. Mix with the prepared tabbouleh.
Toast your almonds at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let the almonds cool.
Chop scallions, kale, radishes, and parsley. Add to the couscous mix with the golden raisins. Let sit for several hours in an air-tight container in the fridge so the flavors can combine. Before serving add the mint leaves, tomatoes, and almonds. Dress the salad and enjoy!