Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

The other night when we were visiting my sister in Philly, we had a late night BBQ at her place and I was in charge of bringing a side dish. I had a bunch of zucchini and peppers on hand from the garden, but we were already grilling veggie kabobs and I didn't feel like doing a boring old green salad. 

After wracking my brain for a few flavors that sounded like they'd work with my veggies, I came up with feta, Greek olives and walnuts. Can't go wrong with that mix! Throw in a box of couscous and you've got a warm Mediterranean salad that comes together in about 20 minutes. I happened to have purple peppers and purple basil from my garden, and I loved how their dark color worked with the kalamata and green olives. But any kind of pepper or basil will do, of course.

And want to know an interesting fact? A block of feta cheese (as in, a whole block, not cut up) is made with normal ingredients like milk and salt. Crumbled feta cheese, however, includes hydrogenated oils and other strange additives. My sister Amanda alerted me to this as I was dumping a container of pre-crumbled feta into the salad, and I was really surprised. I guess the oil helps the cheese to crumble easier, but from now on I'll be crumbling my own, thanks. 


I added balsamic vinegar to the salad as an afterthought since the olives and feta are quite salty, and it really helped balance all the flavors. This is definitely a good one!

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Serves 8

1 box whole wheat couscous
1 large zucchini, cut in medium chunks
1 Bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup green Greek olives, chopped
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (I used fat free)
1/2 cup basil, minced
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Cook couscous according to package directions (do not add the oil or butter as directed). Meanwhile, warm a skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray; add the zucchini, salt, pepper and garlic powder, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often and adding cooking spray as needed. Once the zucchini is soft and slightly brown, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked couscous, sautéed zucchini, peppers, olives, feta cheese, basil and parsley, and toss to combine. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir again. Serve room temperature.

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