Summertime in the city means that I try to spend as much time as humanly possible outside of my apartment. When I finish my work day, I want to go immediately down to the park for dinner, but that means needing to have something on hand that’s easily transportable and still wholesome and nutritious. (Otherwise by this stage we’d be made of tofu bahn mi from the neighborhood Vietnamese sandwich shop.) Even better when it’s something that even the tiniest member of our family can enjoy. This month, I’m sharing three of a my favorite summertime dinner salads in a series sponsored by our neighborhood grocery store. They’re all meals that can be packed up and toted with you—good for after-work park picnics, weekend outings, and office lunches alike.
I had a pearl couscous salad with feta and apricots at a cafe a few weeks ago and I’ve been riffing on the sweet and salty combination ever since. This is less of a true recipe, and more of a guideline that you can tweak according to your taste. For this variation, I used lots of fresh mint and parsley in a nod to a more traditional tabbouleh. While my couscous simmered on the stove, I started my dressing by mixing olive oil and lemon juice with chopped herbs and shallot. Next I added crumbled feta and dried apricots—dark brown because they’ve been dried without sulfur dioxide. Finally, I mixed in my cooked whole wheat couscous and added an extra squeeze of lemon. Pearl Couscous Salad with Fresh Herbs, Feta, and Apricot
What you need:
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a tablespoon or so for toasting
2 cups whole wheat couscous
1-2 lemons, depending on taste
1 bunch parsley, removed from the stem and chopped
1 bunch mint, removed from the stem and chopped
1 shallot, diced
1 large handful dried apricots, chopped
1/3 pound feta, crumbled
sea salt, to taste
What to do:
1. Coat the bottom of a saucepan in olive oil and toast dried couscous over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Add 2 and a half cups of water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the water has evaporated or the couscous is tender. Rinse the cooked couscous under cool water and set aside in a collander or sieve to drain.
2. In a large salad bowl combine olive oil and the juice from one lemon, and a pinch of sea salt with chopped herbs and diced shallot. Crumble feta cheese on top according to taste (I used about 1/3 pound) and add chopped apricots (I cut each apricot into approximately 6 pieces). Fold in cooked couscous.
3. Taste and season with an extra squeeze of lemon and a pinch or two of sea salt to taste.
Note: We’ve also enjoyed this salad with the addition of chopped almonds for an additional protein punch and crunch. You can also try swapping the shallot for green onions and the dried apricots for fresh.
We made a large portion and had enough for dinner and a small lunch the next day. Faye gobbled it, too!