This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite places to go for a trip to the salad bar, Jason's Deli. If you are lucky enough to have one in your area, you may know about the amazing tasting couscous that they have available as a salad topper. It is that couscous that keeps me coming back for more, even when I have all the exact same salad ingredients at home. I whine to my husband, "But we don't have the couscous, so it's not the same!" I love it so much that I decided to finally make my own and see if it could compete.
I think we have a winner! And because I'm such a huge fan of pesto, I decided to make mine with more of a pesto base and with less olive oil than they use. The result is something I'm guessing is lower calorie....and pretty spectacular if I do say so myself!
This is the perfect summertime dish for any gathering, or to have on hand for snacking. Try it on top of a spinach and grilled chicken salad with some pine nuts and balsamic dressing, or as a side dish at dinner or a BBQ. So easy and very fresh tasting!
-2 cups whole wheat Israeli/Pearl Couscous (10.72 oz)
-1/3 seedless cucumber,halved & sliced thinly (1 cup)
-1/4 cup very finely diced red onion
-1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (2 cups)
-2 whole lemons
-large bunch of fresh basil (about 10-12 stalks)
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp. sea salt
-freshly ground pepper
Step 1: In large pot, bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil. Add couscous and 1 tsp. sea salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl. Transfer to fridge/freezer only long enough to cool.
Step 2: Wash and chop all veggies. Set aside.
Step 3: Wash and pat dry the basil leaves and add to food processor. Add extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp. more of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Process about 30 sec-1 min until pesto is well blended.
Step 4: Remove cooled couscous from fridge/freezer. Pour pesto over couscous and mix well with spoon. Add chopped veggies and mix well. Serve immediately or store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 12 half cup servings. YUM!
Nutrition Facts (per 1/2 cup):
Fat: 5 g
Carbs: 22 g
Fiber: 3.5 g
Protein: 4 g
Sugar: 1 g