Thursday, September 1, 2011

$60 Salad

Let me just start by saying that this salad does not actually cost $60.  Hubby started calling it that last year when I decided I wanted to bring this delicious dish to a pot luck picnic and had to buy enough ingredients to feed 20 people and my total at the grocery store was close to $60.  And really... it isn't much of a salad either.  It is more of a "salad" in the sense of a pasta salad or a potato salad.  Though there is no mayo in it and there are a few vegetables.  So I've got that going for me.  Which is nice.

That being said, it is delicious! With a nice light base of couscous and a fresh Mediterranean flavor profile, it is the perfect accompaniment to a nice summer meal.

I start with two boxes of couscous mix.  I usually use the roasted pine nut flavor, but they didn't have any in the store this time so I went with the herbed chicken.  I probably wouldn't get this flavor again because it came with carrots in the flavor packet... which... wouldn't work so I ended up straining the liquid before I added the couscous.

A little trick I use is to replace the water and butter/oil that is called for in the instructions for the couscous with chicken broth.  So for these two boxes, I would have needed 2.5 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of butter.  Instead, I used 2.5 cups of chicken broth.  This gives the couscous a great base flavor as it absorbs all that salty goodness.  But cuts out the excess fat from the butter.

Once the liquid boils, add the couscous, cover and remove from heat for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, the liquid should all be absorbed.  Add in 1/2 cup of pine nuts before fluffing the couscous with a fork.  You want to add the pine nuts in while the couscous is still hot so that the oils from the nuts will be released.  And then set it aside to cool.  If you are impatient like me, you will put it into a bowl in the fridge to speed up the chilling process.

Once the couscous is cooled, start chopping some grape tomatoes into slices.

Next, slice up some pitted kalamata olives.

Finally cut some fresh basil. You can make these cute strips (or chiffonad) by piling the leaves together and then rolling them into a cigar.  Taking a very sharp knife, slice thin strips.  They turn out so pretty and fancy.

Add the tomatoes, olives and basil along with some crumbled feta cheese onto the couscous.

Drizzle on some olive oil.

And now for the secret ingredient.

Are you ready for this?

Pour some of the juice from your kalamata olive jar onto the couscous.  It really adds a special brininess to the finished product and helps keeps the couscous from clumping together without having to add too much oil.

Finally mix it all together and serve it with a little sprig of basil on top.

What I love is that this "salad" keeps getting better as it sits in the fridge - if you manage to not eat it all at once.

Shopping List for $60 CousCous Salad (makes 6 servings)

  • 2 Boxes CousCous Mix
  • 2.5 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1 Cup Chopped Grape Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Kalamata Olives
  • 8 - 10 Large Basil Leaves
  • 1/3 Cup Crumbled Feta
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/8 Cup Kalamata Olive Juice/Liquid

No comments:

Post a Comment