These past few weeks, perhaps fueled by the knowledge that my maternity leave is coming to a rapid close, I’ve been cooking up a storm. Who knows if I’ll have the energy to make meals with multiple courses at the end of my workdays-to-come? So if the whim hits to make beer-braised brats and onions with a side of creamed spinach with bacon, the time is now. If my tastebuds cry out for baked mac and cheese with a side of buttery peas and shallots, the time is now. Arm me with a nice glass of red wine around 4pm, a cutting board and a knife, and I’m in dinner-making heaven.
But of course I don’t always come to the dinner hour with a complete notion of what I want to eat. In fact, for me, half the pleasure of menu planning is letting my taste buds be courted by recipes that I peruse and gazing at the food photography in magazines, cookbooks, and of course online.
During my enthusiastic searches for new ideas, I finally delved into a cookbook that had been sitting on my shelf since my friend Annie gave it to me for my baby shower: “The Naptime Chef: fitting great food into family life.” Kelsey’s recipe for couscous promised to pair perfectly with the salmon fillets I was practically drooling to make–and it did. I loved the tang of the vinaigrette, the fresh lemony-ness of it all, the sweetness of the tomatoes and the nutty flavor of the arugula. Plus, not only was this great warm with salmon, but it was also good piping hot the next day after a stint in the microwave, and topped with a perfectly cooked over-easy egg and blue cheese crumbles.
With my humble modifications, I present you one awesome side dish . . . which could easily be a main dish for a casual lunch by yourself on the couch, watching the latest episode of your favorite show. Just sayin’.
It made me almost as happy as Alice after a big meal . . .
It’s tough to beat the happiness of a drunk-on-milk baby, what can I say.
Et maintenant! I give you . . . le couscous extraordinaire.
10 oz uncooked plain couscous
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 pint golden sunburst tomatoes, halved
2 ½ oz baby arugula
1. Cook the couscous according to the package directions.
2. Fluff the couscous well with a fork.
3. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to form the dressing.
4. Stir the dressing, tomatoes and arugula into the couscous, tossing until everything is evenly mixed together. Taste and re-season if needed.
5. Serve warm, hot or cold!
And eat it with our without salmon . . . though “with” is highly recommended.
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