Moroccan couscous salad

Couscous is one of my favorite quick cooking grains. Its the perfect food to cook when you have had a long hard day and all you want to do is curl up in front of the television eating a big bowl of fresh homemade food but don't want to spend more than 10-15mins in the kitchen. Cooking couscous couldn't be easier. You boil one portion liquid (stock or water); turn the heat off; add equal portion couscous; stir; cover and let sit for 5minutes. After 5minutes, remove the cover, fluff up the couscous and that's it, its ready! How easy is that!

Couscous is a grain made out of semolina, rolled into really tiny small rounds. There is a whole-wheat variety of couscous that Trade Joe's carries which I particularly like. Like any pasta, couscous lends really well to many sauces, dressings and sides. I sometimes chop up whatever veggies are sitting in the fridge and then make an olive oil-lemon juice dressing for a quick couscous salad. On other days when I am craving something warm and comforty, I cook couscous like I would cook Bhagar (a Marathi fasting dish made from a grain called bhagar which is amazingly similar to couscous. The dish is made out of roasting and then quick cooking bhagar with roasted peanuts and a tadka of oil-cumin seeds eaten with some fresh yogurt. Cooking couscous like bhagar is in-fact one of my husnband's kitchen specialilties!).

Today I made a simple Moroccan couscous salad with some garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomatoes and raisins. Olives and preserved lemons would also be a great addition to this salad!
Recipe: Serves 4
2C whole wheat couscous (or regular couscous)
2C + 1/4C water
1 red pepper - chopped finely
1/2 red onion - chopped finely
handful of cherry tomatoes - halved
4 sticks of celery - chopped
handful of fresh mint - chopped
handful of raisins
1 15oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans - rinsed
2Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
1Tbsp finely chopped preserved lemons

For dressing:
4Tbsp lemon juice (I like this 1:1 olive oil lemon juice ratio; but feel free to adjust to suite your taste!)
4Tbsp olive oil 
zest of one lemon
pinch of crushed red chili pepper (more or less to taste)
2tsp cumin powder
2tsp coriander powder
1 clove of garlic - minced
salt & freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat water in a pan.
  2. When water starts to boil turn the heat off. Add 2C couscous, stir and let stand uncovered for 5mins (or follow the package instructions for cooking couscous).
  3. After 5mins, the couscous would have absorbed all the water; fluff up the couscous using a large fork. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile mix all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar and shake well.
  5. Mix the cooked couscous, dressing and rest all ingredients and let stand for half an hour or so for flavors to combine.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasonings per taste (the salad tastes even better a few hours ahead).
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