Easy being green

Of all the things to love about early summer — long weekends, visitors from home, the beach (!!!) — the thing i’m loving the most is how everything is so green around here. Even in the middle of the city, the greenness is staggering and endlessly mood-improving. I think I was subliminally influenced by all this color to make my second recipe from Plenty (see last week’s post on Baba Ghanoush), green couscous. With no less than 9 green ingredients, it surely lives up to its name.

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At the heart of the green couscous is a knock-your-socks-off herb paste which I am heretofore inspired to add to everything I cook for the rest of the summer. The recipe calls for parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, and mint, but I officially give you license to use what ever green herbs are ready in your garden or cheap at the market. In fact, the whole recipe lends itself to improvisation. I made a second batch this week with rice in place of the coucous, and it worked equally nicely. I can imagine subbing baby spinach for arugula, though the arugula does add a perfect crunch to the salad.

Green couscous (adapted from Plenty)

1 c couscous

3/4 c boiling water or vegetable stock

1 T olive oil or buuter

1/4 t salt, to taste

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sugar

Herb paste

1/2 c chopped parsley

1 c chopped cilantro

2 T chopped tarragon

2 T chopped dill

2 T chopped mint

4 T olive oil

1/2 unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

3 green onions, finely sliced

1 fresh green chile (I used half a Poblano), finely chopped

1 1/2 c arugula leaves, roughly chopped

Place the couscous in a large bowl, cover it with boiling water or stock, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad

Fry the onion in the oil/butter on medium heat until golden and completely soft. You’re going for near-caramelization. Add the salt, sugar, and cumin just before it’s done cooking. Leave to cool slightly

Make the herb paste: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add a little more oil to make a consistency like a thick pesto

Add the herb paste to the couscous and mix everything with a fork to fluff it up. Now add the rest of the ingredients, including the onion mixture, and gently mix.

Serve at room temperature. Makes a good side dish, or a main course/lunch topped with feta. Keeps well for lunch the next day!

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