Recipe: Cranberry & Nut Israeli Couscous Salad

I found this recipe while searching for a couscous recipe that had cranberries and nuts in it, I had an idea what to use for dressing, but ran across this recipe on Epicurious – it used spices that I definitely would not have used, but am so glad that I did. This recipe is one that was apparently created at Whole Foods. I checked their site for the recipe, but it wasn’t there. I did find it on Epicurious. This is a great side dish/salad that goes well with pretty much everything! It can be served warm or cold. This is a quick and easy recipe that will put a smile on your face! I added fresh orange wedges to it, and that makes all the difference, it takes it from a really good recipe to a blow your mind recipe. Yep, just with a few oranges!

Note: This recipe calls for Israeli couscous. I always thought of couscous as the tiny grain like pasta, which I never cared for, but after reading about it on Cookthink.com I saw that it was entirely diffferent. It’s puffier, this is what it looks like (the other couscous looks a bit like sand)…

Israeli CousCous [Cookthink.com]
Israeli CousCous [Cookthink.com]
This is the description from Cookthink.com:

Like couscous, so-called Israeli couscous are small, round, pasta-like granules made from semolina and wheat flour.

While the Israeli company Osem claims to have “invented” Israeli couscous in the 1950s, it is simply a marketing term for what was known previously as North African berkukes or Palestinian matfoul and popular in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Unlike familiar small, yellow semolina-based North African couscous, Israeli couscous (which is sometimes called pearl couscous) is twice as big and is toasted rather than dried. This gives it a nutty flavor and a sturdy composition that gives it a chewy bite and makes it stand up to sauce.

Israeli couscous can be used in salads, soups or as a base for chicken or fish. It works well when prepared like a rice pilaf.

Here’s the recipe – Click to print this recipe from Epicurious

israeli couscous with cranberries and pecans

ingredients

Salad:
2 cups Israeli couscous, uncooked
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pecans, quartered
2 scallions, minced
Dressing:
3 tbsp canola oil (I used olive oil)
1.5 tbsp champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1 orange, zest
1/2 orange, juiced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: I added 2 1/2 oranges, cut into wedges (the other half is juiced in the above steps) – this made the recipe over the top good!

preparation

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the couscous. When it’s done (roughly 8-10 mins, or when it’s al dente), drain it but do not rinse. Set aside and let cool while you mince the scallions, toast and chop the pecans, and make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, orange zest and juice, spices and salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the couscous, cranberries, pecans and scallions. Pour the well-whisked dressing over it and toss to combine.

Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for a few hours to blend the flavors.

This is what I did:
DSCN2348

Set out ingredients…

DSCN2354

Toast nuts in a dry non stick pan just until they start to turn a light brown and you can begin to smell them; beware, this step can go from good to bad quickly, so get the pan off the stove once you start to smell them roasting.

DSCN2357

Zest your orange (not the white part) – In a bowl mix the olive oil, vinegar, fresh squeezed orange juice, zest and spices…

DSCN2364

Cut oranges into wedges or smaller pieces, however you like it… this will add a nice sweet burst of flavor- I don’t think you can have too many!

DSCN2369

After you cook the couscous in boiling water, as you would pasta (I did mine 6 minutes and it was perfect), drain it and put it into a bowl. Then, chop your green onions…

DSCN2371

Pour the dressing over the cooked couscous – oooowie, smells good, doesn’t it?

DSCN2373

Add the dried cranberries and orange segments…

DSCN2375

Add the green onions that you chopped a few minutes ago…

DSCN2376

Then add the toasted nuts…

T A D A ! !
T A D A ! !

Now you would think that I would put a serving in a pretty little dish and take a photo… but did I? Nope… I was hungry and I totally missed this step!  It would have been pretty too! We had grilled chicken, couscous and sautéed spinach – close your eyes a picture it… on a pretty plate… smell the wonderful combination of orange, roasted nuts, mmmmm… you know you want it… now go get busy! ENJOY!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

My post from a year ago… Featured Artist… Camille Przewodek!

My post from two years ago… Hootie and the Blowfish Concert…

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ISRAELI-COUSCOUS-WITH-CRANBERRIES-AND-PECANS-A-LA-WHOLE-FOODS-50040927#ixzz2bILpVVTV

Head on down to the Ferry Building!

Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

I took this photo years ago at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA. Have you been there? If you’re in San Fran, I highly suggest it. It’s a feast for your eyes! I’m not kidding, so many wonderful things, fresh food, drink, you name it! Here is a list of VENDORS. I’m not sure if the flower place is still there or not, it was magical! I could picture us living there, going to the Ferry Building each weekend for fresh flowers and produce… well, except for the $$PRICE$$ of living in San Francisco… oh well, I’m happy with my life here in Charleston, and the fact that Trader Joe’s, EarthFare and Whole Foods are close by!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese, you won’t believe it… espresso rind… to die for!

You see this label? MEMORIZE IT! Run to Whole Foods and grab some of this oh so delicious cheese. It’s called Sartori Espresso BellaVitano  and you will not believe your taste buds… Had this at a friends house (thanks guys!), and ran out the next day to nab some…

Don’t worry about the espresso keeping you up at night… I asked the cheese lady… she laughed at me, ha… go figure! Serve it with light thin wheat crackers. A real treat!  Enjoy!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Foods that should never cross your lips… #2

Image: Prevention.com
Image: Prevention.com

I happened upon a fantastic article in PREVENTION MAGAZINE, and I thought it was worth sharing… Each Thursday I’ll post another food that should never cross your lips. It’s a great article because it tells you WHY! I am doing it to the best of my ability!

Ok, here it is, from PREVENTION MAGAZINE:

Corn-Fed Beef

Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming, gives us the scoop:

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E,omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution:
 Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

Budget tip: Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. You can also buy direct from a local farmer, which can be as cheap as $5 per pound. To find a farmer near you, search eatwild.com.

Excellent information from a reliable source. That’s why I read Prevention. If you haven’t subscribed, trust me it’s worth it… and it’s nifty size is so perfect to toss in your purse to take with you! Check it out! If you’re in the Charleston area I know EarthFare and Whole Foods carries it. The taste simply cannot compare to corn-fed. It costs more, yes. But we don’t need to eat such large portions, cut your portion and spend the same amount for something that’s better for your body and fill up on those veggies!

So to backtrack… last week it was CANNED TOMATOES… this week, CORN FED BEEF… What do you think it’ll be next time?

Catch you back here tomorrow!