Today we are welcoming Karista Bennett from Karista’s Kitchen!
Karista is not only a chef and a culinary instructor (for you Seattle-lites, she teaches at PCC Natural Markets!) but a lover of all things natural and one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She never compromises on taste and has a keen way of making boldly-spiced, healthy food that seems indulgent and rich.
Like both Hannah and I, Karista lives in WA as well. Since we are all (clearly!) craving the warm sunny days of summer, Karista decided to share a wonderfully simple-to-make Couscous Salad that screams of warmer months. I am not-so-secretly hoping that the Northwest weather gods take this as yet another sign that sunny days should come here earlier this year. Happy Monday
I feel a bit of spring in the air. Although there’s still a chilly breeze outside and gray-blue skies overhead, I’m beginning to hear the songbirds sing outside my window, and the trees that shade my garden in summer are beginning to bud.
I’m most excited about this new season of produce. Winter’s bounty has been grand, but I’m beginning to crave the season’s change of fruits and vegetables.
Just as the winter season begins to fade, I start preparing the Bennett Crew’s favorite couscous salad. I have to confess, I have a difficult time making this dish without eating half of it before it gets to the table. I’m not the only one guilty of this habit. If I don’t keep an eye on the couscous salad, my Bennett Crew will meander through the kitchen and sneak bites when I’m not looking.
This is my “go to” salad for our summer barbecue’s. It pairs beautifully with grilled meats, fish, poultry and especially grilled veggies. I often make this salad on the weekend and keep it in the frig during the week for lunches, and the occasional before dinner snack.
Filled with spring peas, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh mint, this salad is refreshing and filling, with the clean, fresh flavors of spring and summer. Just to change it up a bit, sometimes I’ll add a splash of lemon, a handful of capers and a few Greek olives.
However you decide to prepare it, this salad will make a beautifully delicious addition to your spring and summer menu.
Meal Ideas + NOTES:
- Add leftover chopped roasted or grilled chicken to your couscous salad to make a delicious and healthy lunch or dinner.
- For something different, try fresh basil in place of the fresh mint, and pair it with fresh mozzarella in lieu of the feta.
- Add in a handful of rinsed capers, sliced Greek olives and a splash of lemon.
- If you’d like to substitute the couscous with quinoa, or you are using bulk couscous, use 2-3 cups cooked quinoa/couscous and then add 1 clove garlic, minced with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and fresh chopped oregano or Italian parsley and a splash of lemon. Continue with the remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- From Alyssa: I used 1 cup plain, dry couscous to figure out the Points Plus value for this dish so please be sure to adjust as needed if you use the Near East box mix.
- 1 package Couscous* (I prefer Near East brand) parmesan and garlic or pine nut and herbs (Equivalent to 1 cup dry, plain couscous)
- 1 ½ cups frozen baby peas (organic tastes best)
- 1 Jar (about 1 Cup) sun dried tomatoes in olive oil and herbs, coarsely chopped
- ¾ Cup feta cheese, crumbled (or more if you like)
- ¼ - ½ Cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Splash of fresh lemon juice
- Cook the Couscous and let it cool slightly.
- Fluff with a fork and place the couscous into a large mixing bowl. Add the frozen peas and toss with the warm couscous.
- Next, drain most of the oil, but not all, from the sun dried tomatoes and then add tomatoes and remaining olive oil to the couscous, lightly toss.
- Add the feta, mint, pinch of salt, pepper and splash of fresh lemon, tossing once more. Taste for seasoning adding more salt and pepper if needed.