toasted couscous & tomato salad

Looking for a way to use those just-plucked-from-the-garden cherry tomatoes? Or grape tomatoes? Give them a quick roast in the oven and they’ll take center stage in this light summery salad.

The couscous is lightly toasted in olive oil giving it a distinctive nutty flavor. So good. There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this one. That’s the beauty of it. The simplicity of it allows the fresh flavors to shine through.

Let’s get started by mixing up our honey vinaigrette…

This vinaigrette is light and versatile. I know it’s called Honey Vinaigrette but…

If at some point you want to change things up, you can forget the honey and replace it with maple syrup or molasses. A whole different flavor goin’ on there.

And instead of the golden or white balsamic, how about using rice vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar? Pairing up the maple syrup with apple cider vinegar takes this one right into the fall season, don’t you think?

The vinaigrette can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to one week or until ready to use. Since it contains minced fresh shallot, I wouldn’t recommend keeping it longer than a week.

Let’s move on to the main event. But before we do, just one thing to keep in mind. If you are feeding a crowd, this salad recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. However, you won’t need to make the extra dressing …you’ll still have a sufficient amount with the original vinaigrette recipe.

This comes together very quickly, especially if you make the best use of your time. The tomatoes will hang out in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, so it makes sense to start with them.

While the tomatoes are roasting, let’s toast some couscous. It’s an easy process. Really.

Just heat up olive oil in a skillet and add the dry couscous. Don’t walk away from the stove. It’s imperative that you continuously stir the pasta so that it toasts evenly.  

After just a few minutes, it will be a deep golden color and you’ll notice a nutty aroma. That’s when you add the water, bring it to a simmer and cover the skillet. After about 10 minutes, you’ll have tender delicious couscous.

In the meantime, the tomatoes should be done. They will have caramelized in the oven. You’ll notice that some of them may have burst open a bit. That’s perfectly normal.

At this point, you’re ready to assemble your amazingly delicious salad.

Transfer the prepared couscous to a serving bowl and add a few tablespoons of the honey vinaigrette. Toss to coat the pasta. If desired, you could add a bit more vinaigrette. The fresh parsley and roasted tomatoes are then gently stirred in.  

The final step is to add a generous topping of shaved Parmesan. Don’t skip that part. It’s the perfect slightly-salty complement to the slightly-sweet dressing.

On another note – if you by chance have any leftovers that’s not a bad thing. This tastes even better the second day. And the toasted couscous is hearty enough to withstand an overnight in the fridge. Just sayin’.

This is delicious served just as it is. As a side salad or a light entree.

Turn it into a hearty meal by creating your own couscous bowl. Top it off with a portion of grilled chicken or fish. And some grilled asparagus or portabella mushrooms. Or both.

toasted couscous & tomato salad

Adapted from Southern Living

Roasted tomatoes pair up with toasted couscous for a light summery salad.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Honey Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 1/3 cup golden balsamic vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot (or minced red onion)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toasted Couscous & Tomato Salad

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Honey Vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or fresh herb of your choice)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/2 cup)

Instructions

Honey Vinaigrette

  1. Combine all ingredients in a clean jar. Cover with lid, and shake until fully blended. Use immediately, or chill until ready to use.

  2. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Toasted Couscous & Tomato Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 

  2. Toss together tomatoes, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until tomatoes burst and caramelize, about 15 minutes.

  3. While tomatoes are roasting, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous, and cook, stirring continuously, until couscous turns golden and smells toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until couscous is tender, about 10 minutes.

  4. Transfer couscous to a serving bowl. Add Honey Vinaigrette; toss to coat. Gently stir in roasted tomatoes and parsley. Top with shaved Parmesan. Serve while still warm.

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