Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cool and Quick for Summer Side or Main Dish

There is a couscous dish I've made many times in the past and it's always been a hit when I serve it or bring it to potlucks. It's perfect for a hot summer day because you only use the microwave and the dish itself is fine at room temperature or slightly warm. Best of all it's so quick that you'll be able to spend more time doing your favorite fun summer activities! It's light and has the summer flavors of fresh basil and ripe tomato, plus the zing of lemon juice and peel.

 I decided to try making it as a vegetarian dish and so I removed the cooked, cubed chicken that usually is included and, since I have oodles of zucchini, I added in some shredded zucchini, lightly cooked in the microwave.

If you have packaged couscous with the toasted pine nut seasoning packet in the pantry and the other ingredients around, this takes something like 10 minutes to make, so it's great for a quick meal after a long day.

We used up the leftovers the next day as a stuffing for Portobello mushrooms and it was a great combination. I marinated the prepared mushrooms in a mixture of a little balsamic vinegar, some olive oil, some veggie broth, fresh thyme, freshly ground pepper and a minced clove of garlic. Sweetie cooked the stuffed mushrooms on the grill until heated through. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos, but they really were tasty! The actual prep time for the mushrooms was about 20 minutes, including turning the mushrooms over in the marinade a couple of times and including the stuffing and grilling. Since the filling was ready to go, this, too is a quick and easy meal, although you need to remember to marinate the mushrooms early in the day.

8 Ingredient Mediterranean Couscous Salad
Serves 6-8

1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (5.6 oz.) package toasted pine nut couscous mix
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (4 oz.) package crumbled feta cheese
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh basil leaves

Note: You'll need to buy a 2/3 oz. package of fresh basil to get the right amount of basil for this recipe. Substitute 3-4 teaspoons (I used 3) dried basil if you can't get fresh.

Microwave broth and seasoning packet from couscous package at HIGH for 3-5 minutes or until broth begins to boil. Place couscous in a large bowl, and stir in broth mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

While couscous is standing, use the same container you used to heat the broth and microwave the shredded zucchini on high for one minute.

Uncover couscous and fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in basil, cooked zucchini and next 5 ingredients. Serve warm or cold. Garnish with fresh basil leaves or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts, if desired.


  1. This is totally brilliant: two meals for the prep of one ;-) A dish that does double duty is always a delight. (put portabella on shopping list)

  2. That sounds tasty.
    I'd try that maybe with quinoa, too.

    Here's another recipe you MUST try: this is the summer go-to, and so tasty...
    Quinoa Salad with Orange & Avocado

    ½ tsp kosher salt
    1 C. quinoa, rinsed well
    2 oranges, peeled, chopped
    6 scallions (white part only) chopped
    2 avocados, chopped
    2 TBSP cilantro, minced
    1 TBSP rice vinegar
    1/3 C. extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
    Juice of two limes
    Freshly ground pepper, kosher salt to taste

    • Pour 1 ¾ C of water into a 1 qt. saucepan, add your salt, and bring to a boil.
    • Rinse the quinoa vigorously in a strainer. When the water comes to a boil, stir in your quinoa, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is fully absorbed, and grain is translucent. This should take about twenty minutes. You can also cook the quinoa in a rice cooker, using a 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio.
    • Remove quinoa from heat, and let it rest for five minutes before turning it into a large salad bowl, and fluffing with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature, so it will remain fluffy!
    • Add the oranges, avocado, cilantro, and scallions to the quinoa. Toss thoroughly.
    • In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil. Dress the salad, and serve.

  3. Tanna, It's true, two meals with little time spent in the kitchen and they are both good.

    Tanita, Love the quinoa recipe! Will have to try it. Need to buy limes...I have all the rest. Thanks!