I was thinking of what to make for lunch and I had a yearning for something light and fresh. I had gone to the market earlier and had lots of fresh vegetables on hand. I didn’t feel like having an ordinary green salad, and I wanted something a bit more filling with a complex texture. I looked into my pantry to see what I could use to vamp up my salad. I always keep pasta in all forms on hand as well as several grains. As I reached to take the box of red quinoa, I remembered the container of Israeli couscous also on the pantry shelf. I love the slightly chewy texture of this pasta like food and I thought, maybe I could combine both food finds into my salad. This would give the best characteristics of both types; the chewy consistency as well as the slight nutty crunch of the quinoa. I am so very happy that I did, because the combination was marvelous.
I had fresh Roma tomatoes in abundance as well as lots of parsley. There was also a bowl of lemons in my kitchen which I find an absolutely essential ingredient to have in hand. I love them for cooking and baking, they have the magical power to perk up so many dishes in the most exciting ways. I decided to make a fresh lemon vinaigrette with a few warm spice additions. I enjoy the addition of garbanzo beans in Mediterranean type salads, especially when it is a vegetarian dish, so I added some of those as well. It took about 15-20 minutes et voila… this delightful salad was born. An easy, filling and guilt-free meal was created, full of bright, fresh flavors.
This Mediterranean inspired salad can be used as a full lunch meal or as a side dish to be served with grilled fish, chicken or kebabs.
Try it sometime, I am sure that you will be as delighted as I was today.
Fragrant Israeli couscous and red quinoa salad
1/4 Israeli couscous
1/4 cup red quinoa
1 Roma tomato, cubed
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup garbanzo beans
1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 whole clove garlic for boiling quinoa and couscous
Above: Boiled Israeli Couscous, red quinoa, chopped onion and lemon zest
Below: some of the additional ingredients for the salad
In a small pot, put about 2 1/2 cups water to boil with a bit of salt. Add one clove of garlic to the rapidly boiling water along with the Israeli couscous and quinoa. Boil for about 12-15 minutes or until couscous is tender. Drain well, and put into a medium bowl.
Cut tomato into small cubes, add finely chopped onion, garbanzo beans and lemon zest.
In a small bowl, pour juice of 1 lemon, 1/8 cup good olive oil, salt, black pepper, cumin powder and pepper flakes. Add minced garlic; mix well to emulsify. Pour over the couscous and quinoa, add chopped parsley and incorporate well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. The lemon must shine through in the flavors. If you feel the flavor needs more zest, add a bit more lemon juice. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve. You may eat this upon completion but the flavors are even better when they are allowed to meld together for at least 20 minutes.