07 April 2010

Tunisian Addiction

The last few weeks I've been getting really, really excited about food with the fresh produce and such coming back to the Farmer's Market. I had my very first salad of the season this last weekend with mixed spicy greens, pea shoots, handmade croutons, walnuts, and currents all drizzled over with a raspberry vinaigrette. No real recipe for this one, simply great ingredients tossed together in a big bowl and happily consumed. One thing in my fridge that sometimes gets forgotten about (and tragically so) is the jar of Tunisian harissa paste that lives toward the back. I made a squash soup that was liberally laced with it back in October that was delicious. But then the jar got pushed to the back of my fridge and largely forgotten about for a while. Then I got inspired by a couscous salad at work. And I was off into the kitchen to see what I could do to replicate deliciousness.

2 cups couscous (you really want the larger Tunisian style, or Israeli will do in a pinch), cooked and cooled
1 cup black olives, pitted and halved (do not use "California black olives" from the supermarket for this, I recommend a pitted kalamata or sahli olive)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
3 med ripe tomatoes, diced (you can use canned, just make sure to drain well)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 lemon, zest

Harissa paste
lemon juice
Olive oil
couscous water

In a large bowl mix cooked couscous (the larger style is actually more like a pasta, cook accordingly and reserve about a 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid for the dressing), scallions, olives, tomatoes, most of the parsley, and carrot. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of parsley for serving.
In a smaller bowl, mix the dressing ingredients. I haven't given exact measurements for any of the dressing because I just kind of winged it, tasting as I went along. I started with about a tablespoon of the harissa and added the juice of one lemon (I only had one, more might be nice). I added the olive oil and reserved couscous water until I had a consistency I was happy with and what looked like about a cup of dressing total. Salt to taste.
Pour the dressing over the couscous and veg mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle reserved parsley and lemon zest over the top when you serve. This is a pretty versatile salad, I had it warm, room temp, and cool and it was excellent all ways.

I am using the last jar of tomato sauce that I made this summer for dinner tonight. I am now waiting (probably not so patiently) for tomatoes to come back into season.

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