I usually wait for the hotter months to break out the pasta salads but there’s something about the cool freshness of cous cous with veggies and a simple, tart dressing that is good anytime of the year, no matter the weather. Besides, it’s the kind of dish you can make with your eyes closed once you’ve done it once.
Truth be told, I feel like I have been in a bit of a cooking rut. Not baking, mind you, that has been fairly prolific, but cooking, actual get-dinner-on-the-table cooking … it feels like a stretch these days. Sometimes all you need is a shift in focus. I have had my head down on so many projects lately that I feel like when I look up and see the clock and it’s time to make dinner, I either go through the motions and produce something less than spectacular that we have had a million times before or I go a little nuts and decide that it’s time to try something really new and ‘out there’, only to have it come off half-assed. These are not days of glorious inspiration, nor flawless execution. It’s trial and error, and trial again. It’s as if I’m just learning how to cook.
And perhaps I am. As I endeavour to write a cook book (even the submission for publishers) I find myself unlearning bad habits, correcting short cuts and questioning every recipe, every iteration of a dish until it’s just what I want it to be — not to mention the photographs. It’s time to step back and re-evaluate when something you love begins to feel like a chore.
Art is a process, right? And anything worth doing is worth doing well. Sometimes that means that dinner is nothing more than eggs on toast, sometimes you need to revert to what you know, to something that won’t be taxing so you can store your (creative) energy and use it for the more important things. This little salad is a step up from eggs on toast, but still, not anything to get anxious about. It’s simple, easy and always good. Come to think of it, it would be great with a poached egg …
Simple Pearl Cous cous Salad
makes enough for 2 as a meal or 4 as a side
½ C pearl cous cous (sometimes called Israeli cous cous)
¾ C hot chicken stock (just below boiling temp.)
1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 English cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
¼ of a small red onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of ½ a lemon
½ C pine nuts
½ C finely chopped parsley
sea salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
In a pot with a tight fitting lid, stir together the cous cous and the just about boiling chicken stock. Cover and leave 10 minutes or until the cous cous has absorbed all the stock.
Prepare the vegetables and season with the olive oil, lemon, parsley and in a medium sized mixing bowl.
Once the cous cous is plumped and ready (try one — it should be tender with no hard spots in the center) toss the cous cous with the vegetables. Allow to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.