I enjoyed a delicious pearl couscous salad with Greek dressing at a picnic recently and it won high praise from many in attendance so I thought I'd come up with my own version to share with you today.
I've included my delicious creamy greek salad dressing recipe below, but you can purchase a high quality bottled version from your grocery store (typically found in the refrigerated section).
Couscous is often believed to be a grain, but it's actually pasta.
The traditional couscous on the left is very small, while the Pearl or Israeli couscous on the right, although still small, is quite a bit larger.
If you can find it, look for tri-colored couscous. It doesn't taste any different than all white couscous, but it adds lovely visual appeal to the finished dish. There are many brands to choose from. While we're talking about substitutions, orzo would be a very appropriate substitution for the pearl couscous.
Start by cutting curly kale into small pieces. I actually find a sharp pair of kitchen shears, like these, work really well for this job.
Cook the couscous like you would any pasta, in salted boiling water, stirring frequently to prevent them from sticking.
A minute or two before the couscous is done, add the chopped kale to the pot. This will soften the kale and deepen it's lovely green color.
When the couscous is done, remove it from the heat and drain, then rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve the vibrant color of the kale. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the kale and couscous.
Stir well to coat each pearl of couscous so they won't stick together. If you skip this step, not only will the couscous clump together in a big lump, but it will absorb all the dressing and you won't be able to taste it (doesn't seem to make sense, but it's true - I speak from experience).
We'll also need some sliced cucumbers - I like to use the mini ones. They're just so darn cute.
1 cup sliced mini cucumbers are going into the bowl too.
Next we'll need to cut some grape tomatoes in half - I cut mine across their equator because I think they look better that way.
Continue until you have 1 cup of halved grape tomatoes and toss them into the bowl. I also got some super-duper, teeny-tiny heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, which I'll throw in whole (see finished photo).
Can't forget sliced black olives. I only show 1/2 cup here, but I decided to increase the amount to a full cup. Into the bowl.
Note to self: next time, be sure to buy pre-sliced olives!
Lastly, 1 cup of diced red bell pepper (green bell pepper would be excellent too). Into the bowl.
Now is when I looked at my overflowing bowl of ingredients and assessed the situation - mix now and make a terrible mess, or transfer everything to a larger bowl and make another dirty dish.
I'd rather dirty another dish than struggle to mix everything in too small a bowl. Frustration I can live without!
Back to the salad - pour half of the prepared creamy Greek dressing (recipe below) and toss well. Alternatively, you can use about 1/2 cup of a high quality store brand.
Garnish with crumbled feta, chopped fresh parsley, and sliced scallions. Serve at room temperature.
Greek Pearl Couscous Salad
makes 8 servings
1 cup uncooked pearl or Israeli couscous (or orzo)
1 cup chopped curly kale
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup sliced black olives, rinsed and drained
1 cup mini cucumber slices
1/2 cup creamy Greek dressing (recipe below)
Garnish: 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Garnish: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Garnish: 2 scallions, sliced
Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil; add couscous and return to a boil, stirring frequently.
Add kale to the boiling couscous a minute or two before the couscous is done.
Drain and rinse the kale and couscous with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Transfer drained kale and couscous to a large mixing bowl drizzle with olive oil and mix well to prevent pasta from sticking together.
Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, mini cucumbers, and Greek dressing; toss until combined.
Garnish with crumbled feta, chopped parsley, and sliced scallions. Serve at room temperature.
Creamy Greek Dressing
makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine. Use half for the recipe above. Store the remaining dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week.