Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Couscous Salad

In Houston, it's already been in excess of 90°F on a daily basis for a while now. Summer is here. Which means time for lots of visits with friends and relaxing by the pool. And eating. As someone who has trouble planning a weekly meals, or even a daily menu, I recognize that this approach of 'winging it' definitely doesn't cut it for entertaining larger numbers of people. Sure, the kids and I do just fine for a weeknight dinner pulled together from random assortment of staples from the fridge and pantry. So, summertime means I am forced to do some meal planning.
This couscous salad is one of my favorites. It's great as a light lunch for a small group, either by itself or on top of some salad greens. It a great salad to add to a buffet of summer salads. And, if bbq meats are on the menu, as is often the case during summertime, feel free to omit the chicken from this one. It's served cold, but still tastes fine at room temp. We're ready for the heat!

Summer Couscous Salad
Adapted from Sandra Lee, via Stephanie Kreml

1 1/4 Cup whole wheat couscous (bulk section of grocery store)
2 1/2 Cups chicken broth and/or water
1 12 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drain and reserve 1/4 Cup of liquid
1 1/2 Cup red cherry tomatoes
1 orange bell pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large English cucumber, diced
2 cooked chicken breasts, diced (leftover rotisserie works great)
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put broth and/or water on stove to boil. While waiting, begin to cut up vegetables and chicken and place in a large bowl. Add couscous to boiling liquid, remove from heat and cover for five minutes. Finish preparing remaining veggies. After 5 minutes, uncover couscous and fluff with a fork. Transfer the couscous to the large bowl with the veggies and chicken and toss gently.

Create dressing by whicking together reserved liquid from marinated artichoke, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the couscous mixture and toss gently to distribute dressing.

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