Monday, April 30, 2012

Lebanese Couscous Salad and Feta Hummus


Last year, while leaving Louisville, KY, and heading north towards home, I happened to stop by a small Italian gourmet grocery store, Lotsa Pasta Louisville.  There are no true words to describe this little gem.  It is filled with all sorts of yumminess, from stuffed baby eggplant to fresh made pasta of every sort to aromatic baked bread to canned delicacies too many to name.  I cannot encourage you enough to stop by.  I never get out of this grocery without a cartload of goodies I am sure that I need in my kitchen.  So it was on this trip that I came across Lebanese couscous, which was without a doubt the largest sized couscous I had ever seen.  Tossing it in my cart, I thought that for sure I could come up with something delicious to make out of it.  Once I got home, I was overcome with a reluctance to use it in any recipe.  The grains seemed overly large.  I was not sure how to cook it and afraid it would be tough or worse burnt to the point of fire alarm in the kitchen ringing in my attempt to make it soft enough to use.  So it sat and sat and sat on my pantry shelf.  Finally, I figured it was time to screw up my courage, shake a leg, and experiment.  Sometimes, perfection can be paralyzing, which is a cooking issue many of us deal with when it comes to trying something new in the kitchen.  So we must remind ourselves that good or bad, playing with new ingredients in the kitchen should be filled with joy and laughter and curiosity.  So in that vein, I made my mistakes with Lebanese couscous, but I also found some delicious food when I figured it out!   Hence, Lebanese Couscous Salad, which is filled with all sorts of delicious ingredients.

The Lebanese Couscous for Dummies goes like this:   Lebanese couscous is a mainstay of this salad and is unlike any couscous you have probably eaten in the past.  Unlike its cousins, the Tunisian or Moroccan couscous, which are small and fluffy, the Lebanese couscous has grains which are quite large.  Spring pea size!  Think of couscous as a baby pasta, as it is made from Semolina flour, which comes from Duram Wheat.  Couscous tastes wonderful in side salads, soups, replacement for rice, and as a breakfast cereal.  It is extremely versatile. In today's grocery story, it is also relatively inexpensive and easily found.

Lebanese Couscous Salad


Ingredients:
1 and 1/3 cup Lebanese Couscous
1 and 3/4 cup water
3 green onions sliced
3.5 oz jar of sour cocktail onions
7.5 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
handful of baby carrots, sliced
1 cup of mixture of olives, sliced
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Instructions:
1.  In a rice maker, place the couscous and water.  Cook until soft.  Fluff with a fork and place in a medium size bowl.

2.  Add green onions, cocktail onions, artichoke hearts, baby carrots, olives, and sunflower seeds.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice.  Pour over couscous mixtures, and gently mix to combine.

4.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!
Lebanese Couscous Salad

Now if you really want a delicious meal, combine your couscous salad with Feta Hummus and mini pita bread.

Feta and Olive Hummus


Ingredients:
2 cans garbanzo beans
1 cup variety of olives
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:
In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, olives, feta cheese and tahini, pulse several times to chop ingredients.

Now begin processing ingredients.  While the food processor is processing, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream.  Continue processing until the hummus is smooth and shiny.

Transfer to a pretty bowl.  Place on platter with mini pita breads and lemon or lime slices for dipping.

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