Not your average potato or pasta salad, I guarantee this flavorful textural delight of a couscous side dish will have your friends and family asking for more! So far, I’ve made it three times: once just for the two of us, then for a casual dinner party where I was cooking for some of Don’s colleagues, and again for our visiting daughter, SIL and darling grandbaby! Yep, we’re officially grammy and pappy or whatever we will be called, the little cherub is all smiles and jibberish at this point 🙂 Cuteness aside, this salad comes together so quickly and has a wonderful balance of flavors and texture: a little sweet and a little savory, pleasantly chewy couscous, bright flavors of lemon and cranberries, crunchy nuggets of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and pine nuts, sparked by cilantro and parsley from the next best thing to fresh herbs – Gourmet Garden organic herb paste.
I was first introduced to this wonderful concept at Camp Blogaway, where Gourmet Garden had all of us cooks and bloggers doing what we love doing most – creating and playing with food. It was a fun hands-on demo where we squirted, mixed and then taste tested our own crudité dips.
Ideally, I prefer to use fresh herbs but when I buy fresh packages or bunches I inevitably find myself throwing some away a week later. Since I no longer have my kitchen garden, and my potted herbs were drowned in the rain, the Gourmet Garden herbs have come to the rescue when I’m too busy to run to the store. Plus, I don’t feel guilty about wasting – their tubes of herbs last up to 3 months in the fridge. Gourmet Garden’s herbs are organically grown and are simply washed, chopped, blended and packed into tubes to maintain all their fresh taste and nutrition. They’re an ideal solution for busy cooks who don’t want to lose out on flavor for their weekday cooking. They even have exotics like Lemon Grass so you don’t have to search specialty markets when you find a Thai or Asian recipe that’s calling your name but no lemon grass on hand. Here in So Cal, Albertson’s and Von’s stores carry Gourmet Garden, although the stores that I frequent only carry the Garlic, Basil, and Cilantro – and sometimes I see the Lemon Grass or Italian Herbs – depending on the store. Check the fresh produce section of your local supermarket next time you’re shopping.
Pearl Couscous with Greens, Cranberries and Pine Nuts
A wonderful balance of textures and sweet and savory flavors come together in this quick and easy crowd-pleasing dish, perfect for pot lucks, parties or quick weeknight meals.
Active time: 10 min. | Cook time: 20 min. | Total time: 30 min. | Serves 10 (as a side dish)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Parsley
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Cilantro
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (8 ounce) pearl couscous*
(also known as Israeli couscous)
(1 -3/4 cups uncooked)
2 packages baby greens, spinach or kale*
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese or feta
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1. Combine lemon juice, Gourmet Gardens Cilantro and Gourmet Gardens Parsley in a large bowl. Whisk in olive oil until well mixed.
2. Make couscous according to package directions. When cooked, stir into dressing. Add greens so they wilt slightly from the heat of the couscous. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
Note: * For a gluten free couscous try Wholesome Kitchen’s GF Couscous available at Amazon.com. * I veered from the recipe only by substituting fresh gai lan leaves and chopped stems that had been briefly blanched (2 minutes for the stems, add leaves for the last minute). Also, the recipe called for 1 cup of shredded or cubed chopped chicken and I opted for a vegetarian dish instead.
Recipe from Gourmet Gardens, Insider’s Guide to Cooking with Herbs and Spices.
I raved about gai lan in my Double Duty Dinners: Asian Short Ribs post where I included it in both the Short Rib Stew and the Asian Noodle Soup with Beef, Tofu and Greens. The 50 Best Plants on the Planet cookbook states that it’s understandable why gai lan is one of the most popular vegetables at Asian restaurants around the globe. It has an appealing crunch and a flavor profile that can be addictive (I am). The stalk, leaves, and the clusters of tightly packed buds have a delectable balance of sweet and peppery flavors. The taste is somewhat reminiscent of rapini, but the bitterness is more subdued by its more evident sweetness. Thank you to Melissa’s Produce and Cathy Thomas for this wonderful compilation of recipes and information on the 50 most nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, no kitchen should be without it.