Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous Salad with Turmeric Vinaigrette

Despite being from Los Angeles, I am not a health nut.  Sure I drank juice elixirs laden with spirulina during my teen years, but I did so because they tasted nice.  That and you try ordering juice in Southern California that doesn’t already come with added super foods.  It’s damn near impossible.

My reason for using whole wheat Israeli or pearl couscous as it is also known is not health related.  Though it’s true whole wheat has more fiber and iron than the regular stuff, I really don’t care.  Its nutritional value is just an added bonus.  The reason I use it is because it tastes better.  I love its nutty flavor.  I also prefer its size as I think big grains are better in salads.

Given the grain’s natural nuttiness, I thought the salad should be decidedly nutty.  Which is why I added toasted almonds and hazelnuts.  They’re my favorite nuts but you should use what you like.  Same with the herbs.  Experiment.  Discover a combination you like best.



150 grams whole wheat Israeli or pearl couscous

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs (dill and flat leaf parsley)

1/4 cup toasted roughly chopped hazelnuts

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

1 sweet red Ramiro pepper, diced

Turmeric vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup cyder vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, salt and pepper to taste

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First, boil the coucous for about 6 minutes.  Make sure there is still a tiny bit of chew when you take it off.  Strain it and rinse with cold water to prevent further cooking.  Set this aside.

Next, toast your nuts over a low flame.  Sorry, the 9 year old in me can’t stop laughing over that last sentence.  But seriously, toast your nuts over a low flame.  Make sure they do not burn.    You only want them slightly browned.  Generally, I use my nose to tell me when they’re done. The moment you can smell warm hazelnuts and almonds, they’re probably ready.

Now chop your herbs and dice your red pepper.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and gently mix.  Be sure not to smash your couscous.  Spoon over the vinaigrette.  I do this a tablespoon at a time so as to not get too much dressing on your salad.  A soggy salad is never good.  Season to taste and serve.

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Summer Salade for Two

There are many dishes the French do  well.  One of my favorites is their salads.  Every ingredient is in season and beautifully displayed.  It’s like edible art.

Before grocery shopping: I shave my legs with a favorite scented oil, line my eyes in liquid black (smudging up the corners for extra kittenish charm), apply two coats of mascara and comb through lashes for added length.  I rouge my cheeks, stain my lips and don something that shows my shape.  If there are flowers in my garden, I pick the brightest and sweetest smelling for my hair.  Now my feminine wiles and I are ready to visit the fishmonger and get the best of what he’s got.  Or at least this is what I used to do until he realized I was married.

Shopping list:

Enough chilled white wine to keep you cool and your cooking moist (roughly 3 bottles)

2 lobster tails, about 1 lb.

1 lb. peeled deveined shrimp

1 large ginger root

Sweet greens for a salad (I like mâche, also known as lamb’s lettuce, because it cannot be harvested by machines.  It must be handpicked.)

1 hothouse cucumber

1 bulb of garlic

1 shallot

1 mango

1 peach

1 avocado

2 lemons

Grainy Dijon mustard

Orange juice

Olive oil

For starters, open the wine and enjoy.  Toss in an ice cube if it pleases you.  Once you are sufficiently hydrated, move on to the lobster.

The man behind the seafood counter tells me the water should be approximately 170°F and that the tails should be boiled until bright red.  6 minutes is perfect.   Melt 3 tbsp of salted butter over low heat.  Set aside to be used for dipping later.  Divine.  Just like the blooms in your hair.

Next, concern yourself with the shrimp.  Sautee 1/3 c. of freshly grated ginger and 6 large diced garlic cloves in 2 tbsp of salted butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add 1 tbsp of red pepper flakes.  Pour whatever is left of the Viognier or whichever wine you got into the fry.  Hopefully there is at least 1/3 c.  If not, open another bottle and pour some of it into the pan.  Add shrimp and cook until bright pink and the tails curl.  Add a few twists of a pepper grinder and call it done.

Divide your mâche or other greens between two large plates.  Peel a mango and cut the widest side of it.  Slice this side into slivers so they can be fanned out like a pinwheel on top of the lettuce.  Do the same with the peach and avocado.  Dice half of the cucumber and distribute to both plates.

Store bought dressings are for suckers.  So instead of buying something pre-packaged and full of preservatives, you are going to make your own.  In a Cuisinart combine 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger, 1 quartered shallot (cutting it into smaller pieces makes it easier to blend), the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tbsp of mustard, a splash of orange juice, 3 twists of a pepper grinder, and 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.

Before serving, spoon the shrimp on top of the salad.  Serve the lobster tail on small side plates just like a French bistro.  Pour the drawn butter into a ramekin.  Top off your wine glasses et c’est ça.  Maxim’s will have nothing on you.