Friday, August 24, 2012

Southwest Pearled Couscous Salad

I’ve got another fabulous recipe from the girls at Spoon Fork Bacon today and this side dish really stole the show when it was served.  It’s packed with that Southwest flavor that everyone enjoys and mixed with a combination of warmed corn and beans along with crunchy cold tomatoes and onions.  I love how the different textures of this dish come together!  

Let’s talk a little about couscous...  It’s actually coarsely ground dried pasta made with semolina flour.  It’s ground into such small pieces that you basically have to just pour hot liquid on top, cover and set aside.  It’s such an easy and hands off way to cook -- and very difficult to mess up.  You can find couscous in your grocery store in boxes, sometimes with flavor packets included such as garlic and herb, etc.  This recipe uses Israeli couscous {{also known as pearled couscous}}, which is what makes it so special.  Still in the pasta family, Israeli couscous is much larger and toasted instead of dried, giving it a delightful nutty flavor along with a slightly chewy texture.  It’s cooking process is similar to regular couscous but I definitely prefer the Israeli variety! 

Southwest Pearled Couscous Salad (serves 3 to 4 as a main course)

1 1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 c. pearled {Israeli} couscous
1 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. grilled corn kernels (from 1 small corn on the cob)
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
1/4 c. crumbled cotija cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Place broth, paprika, cumin, chile powder, cayenne and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  As the broth heats up, add oil to a medium saucepan and toast couscous over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes.  
  2. Pour the hot broth over the couscous, cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.  When couscous is ready, uncover and gently fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, add the black beans, corn, red onion, tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro and gently fold together until fully incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper and top with cotija cheese, if using.  

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