Looking for a quick, easy, flavorful summer side dish or salad to go with chicken, fish, or beef? This light salad with a lemon vinaigrette is a perfect accompaniment to just about anything you throw on the grill, and can be packed up for a picnic. The main ingredient, Israeli couscous, is a good pantry staple, since it cooks up quickly, is very versatile, and can be used in both warm side dishes or cold salads (similar to pasta). Toasting the couscous before cooking in water adds extra flavor and color.
Cucumbers provide a nice crunch to the salad, and tangy feta cheese lends saltiness that go nicely with the lemon vinaigrette.
- 1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups boiling water
- 1 English cucumber, diced (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 green onion, minced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a large sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and add the couscous, tossing to coat. Toast for 3 minutes or until some of the pearls start to turn a golden color. Carefully add the boiling water, allow to come to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for approximately 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Move to a colander and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds, then allow to cool to room temperature (or chill in the refrigerator).
While the couscous is chilling, dice the cucumber and mince the fresh parsley. Set aside. Make the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the feta cheese (garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and zest). Place the cooled couscous in a large mixing bowl and pour the dressing over it, tossing gently to coat. Gently stir in the cucumbers and parsley, then season to taste with additional salt an pepper if necessary. Fold in the crumbled feta cheese and serve, or chill until ready to serve.
Other add-ins? Try fresh mint, chopped pistachios, or kalamata olives to kick it up a notch!