I really love couscous in salads and the way those tiny semolina granules have the ability to keep you feeling full and satisfied. With summer in full swing, and a battery of salads already behind me, I’ve been after more light and tasty main meal salads–ones that aren’t just all about well…“lettuce”.
This one is a wonderful bittersweet combination of tangy oranges, sweet local cherries, peppery young arugula leaves, fresh herbs and a handful radicchio leaves for an extra splash of color.
I really love this salad because the couscous gives it enough substance to enjoy as a stand-alone meal, plus it doubles as a picnic worthy salad (or a healthy and delicious packed lunch). So good!
As my neighbor, Stephan, a fellow salad lover would say, this combination would be a better option for a hearty lunch. And he knows about salads, because I see him every evening through the kitchen window as he preparing his evening salad. Well known for his work as the composer for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, “Der Untergang” at 59, he looks amazing. Secret. He gave up carbs in the evening. I think he said it was something he decided a decade ago. It worked. I do, of course, see him on occasion when I too am doing my usual sprints along the canal, so it seems he has more than one secret to maintaining his youthful appearance. His secret formula for youth: music, salad, and sports. Whether it is enough for a washboard stomach I can not judge through the kitchen window, but it’s definitely flat.
Couscous is akin to pasta (it’s also a durum wheat semolina product) and the nice thing is that it is super versatile and easy to make. It cooks up in about the same time as regular pasta, but with much more ease–it tends to cook all by itself! All you have to do is add hot liquid, cover it and let it go to work. Once those little granules have absorbed all the liquid, fluff with a fork, and then it’s ready to serve.
With a little searching in the right places, couscous can also be found in a whole wheat variation as well as versions produced from other grains such as kamut, barley or millet. It’s even made from corn as a gluten free alternative.
Orange-Infused Couscous with Cherries and Arugula
For the couscous:
1 cup water (250 ml)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (160 ml)
1 1/3 cup couscous (215 g)
For the salad:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (80 ml)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon good quality red wine vinegar
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted (220 g)
1 navel oranges, peeled and segmented
1 handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2-3 generous handfuls baby arugula
1 small handful chopped radicchio leaves
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup flaked almonds, toasted (40g)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated parmesan, garnish
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and the orange juice to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed; fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.
3. Place the couscous, cherries, orange segments, mint, parsley, arugula, radicchio, red onion and almonds in a large bowl. Add the dressing to the couscous mixture. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Divide among plates and garnish with parmesan.
4. This salad can be served while the couscous is still warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!