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Summer Side Dish: Cous-Cous Salad

Cous-CousWhen it comes to summer picnics I rarely have trouble deciding on a main course, hot dogs, hamburgers, steak or chicken kebobs are always crowd pleasers. But then there are the side dishes. Sometimes finding the perfect side dish can be tough. Salads can wilt in the heat, pastas get cold and gluey and roasted vegetables usually end up in a shallow pool of water when left sitting out for more than ten minutes. I’ve experimented with a lot of different make-ahead salads over the years and have landed on a few standbys that manage to avoid all of these pitfalls, my favorite of which is this cous-cous salad.

This salad does well when it’s made ahead. It will last stored in the fridge for up to two days and, in fact, tastes a little better if allowed to do so. By resting, the flavors of the dressing are able to mingle and penetrate the grains of cous-cous. This is also a great when served warm or cold, giving you flexibility depending on your menu. Best of all, the flavors are adaptable. If you don’t want blue cheese feel free to substitute a different tangy cheese, or dried currants work well if you don’t have craisins on hand. The point is, have fun with the flavors and rest assured that this will fit all of your side dish needs this summer.

Cous-Cous Salad with Blue Cheese, Craisins and Scallions
1 10 oz. box plain cous-cous
1 c. craisins (dried cranberries)
1 c. blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 c. scallions
3/4 c. pecans, roughly chopped
1/3 c. good olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 t. lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt to taste

1. Prepare cous-cous according to package directions.
2. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.
3. Pour prepared cous-cous into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Add craisins, blue cheese, scallions and pecans. Stir well until completely combined.
4. Add dressing and mix until salad is completely coated with dressing.
5. Add 2 pinches of salt, or more, to taste.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be stored, covered with plastic, in the fridge.

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