Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest
A staple of North African cuisine, couscous has extended its popularity all over the world. It is traditionally made by rolling coarse semolina, flour, and a little water by hand to form small beads, which are then steamed until light and fluffy. Though it is usually served with meat or vegetable stews and the spicy condiment harissa, its versatility and ability to absorb flavor makes it an invaluable addition to any pantry.
Since most of the couscous you find in markets has been precooked, it can be prepared quickly, requiring only a brief soak in boiling water. On a hot summer day, when the last thing you want to do is heat up an already sweltering kitchen, you can turn couscous into a light yet hearty salad.
In this preparation, whole-wheat couscous is tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, salami, baby arugula, and lemon juice. The acidity of the lemon complements the peppery arugula and cuts through the richness of the salami and sweetness of the tomatoes. This recipe calls for oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, but if you only have dry-packed on hand, simply soak them in warm water for an hour to rehydrate, and then toss the slices in a few drops of olive oil before adding to the salad.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Salami Couscous Salad
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup couscous, preferably whole wheat
2 cups baby arugula
1/3 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 pound sliced salami, roughly chopped
10 basil leaves, torn
Salt to taste
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I had this last night! It was fantastic as we swelter in the summer heat. We tried two wines: a rosé from Italy (called rosato there) and a Lambrusco (also from Italy), which is a lightly sparkling red from Emilia-Romagna. Both were delicious. We chose these wines because of the salami and the sun-dried tomatoes. These components generally lend themselves to red wines, but we wanted something light and refreshing and complementary with the greens and dressing. The rosato we picked was made from Sangiovese, one of my favorite red grapes for cured hard meats like salami and densely sweet sun-dried tomatoes.
2011 Rocca di Montegrossi Rosato, Italy
Barbolini"Lancillotto" Lambrusco, Italy
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What do you include in your summer couscous salads? Share your cooking tips and serving suggestions in the comments section below.
Like this post? See the Easy Everyday topic from last week: Lithuanian Summer Borscht.