I’ve had a bit of a “meh” week when it comes to cooking unfortunately – sometimes inspiration is hard to find, especially during those wet Wintery days where the house feels like it is moonlighting as a laundry, the toys keep finding their way back under your feet no matter how many times they are put away & the kidlets are being particularly fussy about eating anything that doesn’t have yeast or sugar in it! Sound familiar? **SIGH**
Eventually, I was able to have a little ‘me’ time somewhere during the chaos – (thanks Nanna!) – I decided I would make one of my favourite salads using couscous & pistachio nuts. It is fresh, healthy & packed with zest & crunch – a perfect light but satisfying lunch dish, or a great side dish to accompany mains like grilled chicken or homemade beef burgers! YUM!!
I still had some gorgeous organic navel oranges left after making last week’s Whole Orange & Chia Seed Cake & where normally I would add sultanas or roasted pumpkin to this salad, I decided to add some juicy, grilled orange pieces. I can tell you, it was a great decision!
Instant Couscous is such an easy dish to prepare – all you do is add boiling liquid in a 1:1 ratio – ie. for every 1 cup of Couscous, add 1 cup of liquid. You can use water or stock, in this case I have used vegetable stock & fresh juice. The key is not to overdo the liquid – keep it 1:1 – otherwise it can become quite stodgy.
Couscous should be light & fluffy, soft on the palette, but filled with flavour from the ingredients you add to it. It combines wonderfully well with fresh herbs & nuts & is very often served with dried or fresh fruits. Hence, my inspiration for using fresh oranges.
By char grilling the oranges over a high heat for a couple of short minutes, the sweetness of the juice intensifies & adds an extra pop on the senses when you bite into a piece.
Also, given my current run on using chia seeds in just about everything I decided to throw some of this in too! They add a lovely little crunch to the texture that adds to the feeling of freshness from this dish.
To add some spice & colour to the dish I love using Moroccan style seasoning. You can make up your own combination using things like cumin, paprika, coriander & ginger – or if you want quick & easy, like me, go for a ready mix like Masterfoods Moroccan Seasoning – a few shakes & you’re sorted! (Not sponsored – I just like it!!)
I like to toast the pistachio nuts, again it intensifies the flavour, however, you can leave both the nuts & orange uncooked for this dish if you prefer. All I will say is that is really doesn’t take much time to do – I managed to have them done by the time the couscous was ready to use. That’s about 10 minutes.
With a little butter for creaminess, the addition of fresh herbs & vegetable stock – this salad is delightfully flavoured & will even have the fussiest eaters asking for more when you dish it up as a side for dinner that night! I know, colour me surprised, but it did!! :)
Here’s how it goes …
- 1 cup uncooked wholewheat cous cous
- 3/4 cup reduced salt vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 navel oranges - 1 to grill, 1 to zest & juice
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup lightly toasted pistachio nuts
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon Moroccan style spices - (I like Masterfoods version of this)
- First ...
- Preheat the oven to 180oC (non fan forced)
- Place the pistachio nuts on a small baking tray in a single layer.
- Cook for about 8 - 10 minutes.
- Remove & transfer to heatproof bowl or plate & allow to cool.
- Meanwhile ...
- Using a juice extractor of some kind, juice enough orange to make up 1/4 cup - (I used 1 orange).
- Over high heat, using a small saucepan, combine vegetable stock, orange juice & extra virgin olive oil & bring to the boil.
- Add couscous, gently combine & remove from heat.
- Cover & allow liquid to be absorbed - about 10 minutes.
- While absorption is in action ...
- Place griddle pan or similar over a medium high heat.
- Finely grate rind from 1 orange.
- Slice another 2 oranges into approximately 1cm circles, leaving skin on.
- Grill orange slices on hot griddle until char lines form - about 2 minutes each side.
- Roughly chop parsley & chives - reserve some for garnish if you wish.
- Roughly chop pistachios.
- Remove skin from grilled oranges & dice flesh into large pieces, about 2cm.
- Bring it all together ...
- Using a fork, gently fluff the couscous to separate.
- Add the butter & gently mix until butter is melted through.
- Add spice mix & orange rind & gently mix until well combined.
- Transfer couscous to a large mixing bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients - parsley, chives, pistachios, chia seeds & diced orange - fold the mix gently together until well combined.
- Serve immediately.
- This salad will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days - but is best eaten quickly.
- As always don't feel bound by these ingredients - if you prefer different herbs, use them, add some grilled chicken or lamb, feta cheese or vegetables like roasted pumpkin or eggplant. Chick peas would also go wonderfully in this. Don't be afraid to experiment - couscous is very versatile.
I hope you like this as much as we do!
Do you eat couscous? What’s your favourite salad? I would love to hear about it! :)