I have recently re-discovered couscous. It is one of those foods that I eat all the time, and then suddenly eat not at all. There is no real reason behind these alternating extremes. I just seem to forget about it sometimes. Given how easy couscous is to prepare (5 minutes! 5 minutes!), I don't know how the forgetting happens, but I am certainly making up for lost time now.
I made this couscous salad for our final book club gathering for 2012. I couldn't resist putting bejewelled in the title, as the mix of chickpeas, pistachios and cranberries is quite a magical one. Even if you don't like dried fruit in savoury dishes, I recommend making an exception for this. It is Christmas, after all.
This salad can be made ahead of time and I served it cold. I am sure it would also work hot, if that is your preference. It makes a nice side dish and was well received by my mostly non-vegetarian book club friends. I ate the leftovers for lunch, with joy.
I hope it brings you joy, too.
Bejewelled couscous salad
With chickpeas, pistachios and dried cranberries, this is a festive side dish that is very easy to prepare
Serves 8 as a side
1 cup couscous
2 cups boiling water
1 large red capsicum (pepper), diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 tin if using tinned)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios (mine were unsalted, salted would probably be fine too)
1/4 - 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water
1 tsp maple syrup
In a large bowl, combine the couscous and boiling water and mix with a fork. Cover with a tea towel or lid and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
(Optional: While the couscous is cooking, lightly steam the capsicum using a stove-top steamer or in the microwave. This is optional because the capsicum can be included uncooked.)
When the couscous is cooked, whisk with a fork until fluffy. Stir through the capsicum, celery, cooked chickpeas, pistachios and dried cranberries.
In a small container or jug, combine the lemon juice, extra water and maple syrup. Pour over the couscous and stir well with a spoon or fork.
Refrigerate until needed.
It seems entirely possible that I will be making this again before Christmas.
On a less festive note, I wanted to note my sadness over the suicide of the London nurse who was on the receiving end of the 'royal prank' initiated at an Australian radio station last week, and at the loss of two surfers off the south of Western Australia. The 22-year-old who is still missing is a friend of my sisters. It is terribly sad. I feel for her and for the boy's family and he and them are in my thoughts.
I am submitting this to Ricki's Wellness Weekend December 13th - 16th 2012.
How do you feel about couscous? And what about dried fruit in salads / savoury dishes?
Other 2012 Christmas food ideas: Chocolate, almond and goji berry truffle balls.
My 2011 Christmas food posts can be found here.