01 June 2011

Israeli Couscous Salad with Beets, Chevre, and Herbs


One of the things I absolutely love about living in Santa Barbara is being able to step outside any time of the year and picking my own fresh herbs out of the garden.  And the bevy of herbs, from basil and parsley to lavender and chives, is a palette of inspiration.  Every time I look outside and see the beauty and fruitfulness of this little corner of the world, I can't help but feel a deep, glad gratefulness.

Returning home after a fun and fast-paced weekend celebrating a wedding with friends in the Bay Area, I was craving something simple to wind down with.  And this Israeli couscous salad, with chunks of oven-roasted beets, creamy goat cheese, and fresh flavors of garden-grown oregano and thyme, was a dish that welcomed me home.

It was one of those gorgeous sunny days that said "come out into the garden!"  With the oven doing all the work for me in turning a pan of beets into a tray of garnet-red gems, I took a few minutes to step outside, my feet bare against the warm flagstone path.  The glorious scents of nearby chaparral and of the garden around me flitting into my conscious thoughts, I started picking a little of this and that for the finishing touches of this dish.

My Israeli couscous with roasted beets, goat cheese, and fresh herbs is a lovely accompaniment for your summer grilling and is also wonderful as a simple vegetarian main course.  Enjoy!

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Beets, Chevre, and Herbs
Makes 2 main courses or 4 side servings

6 medium beets
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. sea salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ¾ cups boiling water
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Peel and trim beets, then cut each beet into 6-8 wedges (should make about 4 cups of wedges).  Place wedges in a 9 x 13 – inch baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt.  Roast at 425 F until tender (about 30 minutes), stirring once halfway through roasting.  When beets are done, let cool to room temperature.

While beets are roasting, prepare the couscous.  In a 2-quart saucepan, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and then add the dry couscous.  Toast couscous for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden brown.  Add the minced garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and boiling water and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes until water has been absorbed.  Gently fluff the couscous with chopsticks or skewers and then transfer to a mixing bowl to cool.

Toss cooled couscous and beets together with goat cheese and fresh herbs, seasoning to taste with red wine vinegar, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.


Angie said...

I was going to try making something similar to this with lentils and spinach but didn't think to use couscous. Sounds yummy!

erica said...

mmm, lentils and spinach--what a great-sounding combination!

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