Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas food ideas 2012: Bejewelled couscous salad



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
Vegan


Ingredients
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

Method
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.

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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.
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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

25 comments:

  1. Oh YUM - I LOVE dried fruit in savoury dishes - particularly cous cous dishes! I make a Moroccan style cous cous salad that has dried apricots, orange and almonds - I love a good sweet salty combo!

    YUM cranberries & pistachios are a brilliant combo - I will HAVE to try this - so pretty too!

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    1. Thanks Lou - now I want to try your version! Dried apricots, orange and almonds sounds divine :)

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  2. I'm a raw vegan and no longer eat grains, but I do make this with cauliflower. Put cauli in food processor, take out, process some white and green onions, celery, carrots, red and green peppers. I put it all in a casserole dish with some seasoning to taste, pour over about 1/2c hot water, stir and let sit.

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    1. I really like cauliflower rice but have always tended to use it as a base for other things (as you might use plain rice), rather than a stand alone dish. I'll have to try it in something like this :)

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  3. The salad looks really yummy! I don't think I have ever had couscous before. I need to try it sometime!

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    1. You really do! I love it, and it is super simple to prepare.

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  4. I love bringing big grain salads to holiday meals! This one would be perfect!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I am into big grain salads too, just about all the time ;)

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  5. Oh god, I'm so sorry for the surfers, their families, and your sister. I hadn't heard of this, though did hear of the London nurse. Sending hugs.

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    1. Thank you, very much. It is pretty horrible. They have just about given up hope of finding him alive and I can't imagine what that must be like for his parents, while they are still waiting for the final confirmation.

      Thanks for your thoughts, they mean a lot xo

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  6. I love couscous salad :-) this one looks delicious too!
    And yes I'm a big fan of dried fruit, so i find nothing wrong with them in salads and savoury dishes:-)!

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    1. Thanks Sandy - I think I'd put fruit in everything if I let myself so glad I'm not alone :)

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  7. oh that salad is no ice and colorful!

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  8. Beautiful salad Kari! I love all the colours and cranberries are always an amazing addition!

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  9. This salad looks fabulpous - it is exactly the kind of salad that I would want to eat (cf too many leaves - yuck!).

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    1. I don't mind leaves either, but even in my leafy salads I quite like fruit (I think I might be addicted!) :) I'm glad this one appeals to you!

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  10. That couscous looks amazing Kari! I love how colorful it is! :) I love to add things like that to change up my food.

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  11. I like the sound of this and it looks great too! I'm not usually a fan of sweet and savoury mixes but there is something about cranberries (and a few other sweet items) that I do enjoy in savoury food. I don't cook couscous often as my fellows aren't that keen on it but I was gifted with a tagine recently so I'm going to try again and see if I have better success.

    That's very sad to hear of your sister's friend! What a terrible tragedy as was the nurse in London.

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    1. Thank you Mel - it is hard for me to get my head around and I didn't know the boy directly. I feel for my sister's group as 21/22 is so young to lose a friend.

      Mr Bite tolerates couscous but he isn't a big fan either. Maybe you can find a version that appeals to your men? My Dad never came around to it though, so if they won't come on board you'll just have to use your tagine for solo couscous eating!

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  12. I agree with you on the cous cous thing...I do exactly the same thing as you. I think I'm gonna have to go out and buy some to make this recipe though. Pistachios? What an awesome idea. :)

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