Couscous, often mistakenly called a grain, is actually a pasta made up of tiny pearls of wheat dough. To save time, purchase instant couscous, which has been presteamed and is ready in only a few minutes once combined with hot liquid.
Thanks to my daughter, I have finally grown to adore couscous!
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups instant couscous
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Prepare the couscous
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth, the 1/2 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper and bring to a boil. Place the couscous in a large stainless-steel bowl and pour the hot liquid over it. Blend well with a fork, cover with a plate and let stand for 5 minutes.
Toast the almonds
Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the almonds and toast, stirring, until crisp and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Assemble the salad
Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the almonds, chickpeas, bell pepper, olives, lemon juice, parsley and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil to the couscous. Toss gently to combine. Taste, adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Salad, by Brigit L. Binns (Oxmoor House, 2007).