i went home last week. i think i mentioned back in january that my grandmother passed away, and i was finally able to get home, and the family came together to have a memorial service. we had it out at a lake my grandmother loved, renting houses and having a big picnic on of the afternoons with people who knew and loved her.
i stayed with my parents for a few days, and i only cooked for them once. i threw together a salad and that coconut curry tomato soup i posted back in march. i felt like doing something simple, and we ate outside in the amazing backyard they’ve created.
for some reason, they flipped over this salad i made. it’s really a riff off of one of those pre-packaged trader joe’s salads that i occasionally grab when i didn’t make lunch and don’t feel like going out. it’s not bad, but made fresh it’s even better, and the salad dressing, a fresh and sweet basil dressing, is what really makes it killer.
i didn’t actually put chicken in it when i made it for my parents, but sometimes i sauté a chopped chicken breast when i’m making it for dinner. the whole thing is fairly simple — some israeli cous cous, bell pepper, corn, scallions, asiago cheese, currants and some pecans.
the first night i made it, i thought i had everything. and of course, after getting home and digging through my cupboard, i had what i considered “close enough”.
lebanese cous cous for israeli, dried blueberries and cherries instead of currants, mâche and arugula instead of mixed greens, etc. you get the point. good enough.
the only thing you have to cook, if you aren’t using chicken, is the cous cous, which takes about 15 minutes or so. other than that, it’s a matter of dicing and sprinkling a few things, and i guess dry roasting some pecans in a sauté pan. grating a little cheese. it’s a nice summer meal, when you want something refreshing but filling, something cool that doesn’t involve turning on the oven or slaving over a hot stove. when i made this for my parents and for the picnic, i used some hand-rolled cous cous from tunisia and oh my god, that stuff was delicious. i had given it to my dad last year and found it in the cupboard, and it was almost buttery and perfectly salted all on its own.
cous cous and chopped salad with basil dressing.
1/2 c. dried israeli or moroccan cous cous
6 c. fresh greens of your choice
1 c. canned or fresh sweet corn
1 c. diced bell pepper
1/4 c. grated asiago cheese
1/4 c. diced scallions
1/2 c. toasted pecans, chopped
1/4 c. dried fruit, such as currants, blueberries or cherries
diced chicken breast (optional)
follow the directions for cooking the cous cous. the hand-rolled cous cous was simple — set 3/4 c. water to boil, add the cous cous, remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes. fluff with a fork. let cool
combine all above ingredients in a large bowl, and toss with basil dressing (see below).
for the basil dressing:
1 large bunch fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. agave
1/4 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 c. olive oil
combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender. add a tbsp or two of water to help with blending if necessary. drizzle in the olive oil while blending until it emulsifies. i also generally start with less than 1/4 c. of agave and add more as needed, depending on the size of my basil bunch.