Over the next week I have three recipes for you that will make your summer barbeques the most popular on the block. They aren’t what you would call “traditional” barbeque recipes but that is perhaps what I like most about them. And since next weekend (it being the 4th and all) is pretty much the grill’s favorite holiday then it looks like that perhaps for once in my blogging career I may be ahead of the game for a holiday.
It’s a couscous salad studded with fresh cherries, toasted almonds, a zippy pomegranate molasses vinaigrette and quite green due to the amount of fresh herbs. Oh and there’s feta, if you’re in to that sort of thing. It has the freshness of a more traditional salad but the pleasant heft of a pasta salad. It sits beautifully next to grilled meat and vegetables (more on that soon).
If tradition is more your style when it comes to barbecuing for the 4th then still consider this salad. For your next picnic maybe? It’s an ideal candidate as it does beautifully waiting for you in the fridge or lingering in the picnic basket while you play games or dip your toes in the sand.
Let’s call this recipe a guide rather than a map to be followed strictly. Perhaps you’d like more zip, than you’ll need more than 1/2 a lemon. Are fresh cherries not around yet? Dried would slip in their place nicely. I used toasted marcona almonds but you could use regular almonds, pine nuts, pistachios – you get the idea.
Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries
Serve 6-8 as a side
3 cups Israeli couscous
1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cherries, pitted and quartered
1 cup (4 ounces) marcona almonds
1/2 red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups, packed fresh parsley and mint leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Cook the couscous in boiling water that is seasoned with salt and a glug of olive oil. Drain the couscous while it’s still al dente, about 7-9 minutes but each variety is different so continually check the doneness.
Rinse the couscous with cold water to stop the cooking then set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the pomegranate molasses, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add this to the couscous.
Mix in the cherries, almonds and onion.
Finely mince the fresh herbs and add those to the salad. Finish with fresh feta.
Taste and adjust to your liking, adding more salt or lemon juice if needed.