Recently, a very fortunate set of circumstances resulted in the creation of my new favorite summer salad dish.
- I wanted to make something at the beginning of the week to pack for lunches for the rest of the week.
- I needed to make sure I had protein, veggies and some carbs in my lunches.
- I had made my dinner plan for the week and I had an abundance of fresh vegetables leftover, with no plan for how to use them.
The veggies in question were half of a head of orange cauliflower from Pleitez Produce, and a bunch of green beans from Walnut Hill Farm. The lunch setting: lunchtime in the break room. The weather: outside, warm all week with a slight chance of thunderstorms; inside, temperature could range from “balmy” to “beginning of the next ice age.” The goal: build a lunch that fills me up but doesn’t make me feel like I’m reversing all the health karma points I have racked up this week in my workouts.
Based on the temperature, I knew I wanted a cold dish, but with a little kick to keep me warm just in case my office felt like a meat locker this week. I decided to combine my old favorite, Whole Foods’ cracklin’ cauliflower, with a pasta salad to give it a little more oomph. I chose pearl couscous (or Israeli couscous) because I love the texture, but you could substitute the grain or pasta of your choice. Quinoa would be my second choice for its superfood nutrition benefits. I used roasted cauliflower, blanched green beans, fresh tomatoes and roasted chickpeas for the mix-ins, then dressed it all in a curry vinaigrette. You could throw in whatever veggies you have on hand.
I have definitely found my new favorite pasta salad! I can’t get enough of this stuff. I think the dressing is what really makes this salad special. The roasted chickpeas don’t hurt. Mmmm. And (bonus!) this is vegetarian and vegan friendly. Just in time for summer barbecue season.
Scroll past the recipe for a Gardenology update!
Curried Pearl Couscous Salad (serves 4-6 as a meal, 8-10 as a side dish)
- 1 cup of pearl couscous (uncooked)
- 1 Tbsp oil (olive, coconut, or vegetable)
- 1 small head of cauliflower, or half of a large one, cut into florets
- 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 handfuls of green beans, snapped and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss the cauliflower and chickpeas together with the 1 Tbsp of oil, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool.
- Cook the couscous according to package instructions. I added my 1 cup of couscous to 2-1/4 cups of boiling water, then reduced heat, covered, and cooked for 10-12 minutes. Pour out of pan and into a large bowl. Let cool.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Then remove green beans from hot water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- While everything cools, prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together curry powder, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil until combined.
- To the large bowl of couscous, add cauliflower, chickpeas, and green beans. Toss with the dressing. Add halved tomatoes and stir until combined.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
In other news, I have some green beans in my garden! Here are some gardenology progress photos:
The first harvest was nine green beans. If I don’t get another thing out of this garden all summer, at least I can be proud of the nine green beans I grew from seeds. Never mind that that achievement probably requires the skill of a third grader. I am a remedial gardening student, okay?! It’s the little things.
For more BYOBB (bring your own brown bag) lunch ideas, type BYOBB into the search bar.