, ,

It’s February 1st and the temperature hit 80 degrees here in Austin today. A gorgeous, sunny day, I gladly accepted a last minute invite to go hang with a friend for an afternoon swim… effectively killing all chance of writing my original planned blog… I’ll try to work on it tomorrow but it’s geared more towards fitness… well sort of. Anyway after a lovely afternoon in the pool and some great conversation, I had to head home to wait for the workers to finish one last detail of the recent home repair. (Note: I seriously considered going without that 3′ of 1/4 round molding in favor of more pool time)

Post pool and waiting for the “sometime after 4:00” arrival of the floor guy, I decided to play in the kitchen for a bit. The dinner plan: Prosciutto & Turkey Paninis and Israeli Couscous salad.

I’m a fan of Couscous, especially the Israeli (Pearl) variety. I use it in broth based soups instead of rice and it reminds me of chicken and stars. The only thing I don’t like about it is how easily the uncooked, little pieces will jump across the room, onto the floor (my four legged assistant doesn’t not share this dislike).

For a little extra flavor I added a bit of Chicken Better than Bouillon to my couscous water. I did 3 cups uncooked couscous, 3 1/4 cups liquid. Had I left out the bouillon, this would be a vegetarian salad. The couscous is quick to make, boil liquid, add uncooked couscous, cover and simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While it simmered I pulled together the rest of the salad ingredients.

I’m always trying to add fresh veggies (and use them up if I have them on hand) so I grabbed the remainder of a head of cauliflower, an orange bell pepper, and several handfuls of snap peas. I also grabbed olive oil, Persian Lime EVOO, Sicilian Lemon Balsamic, coriander chutney, Tabasco, Salt, & Pepper.

After dicing the veg, I made a quick dressing for the salad with the remaining ingredients. For the record, I could have easily grabbed a bottle of salad dressing to use, and I have done that many times before… I always keep a few flavors on hand. That said, if you want to make your own dressing for pasta or a tossed salad you can do it pretty quick… mine are usually oil (flavored or non), vinegar (flavored or not), something sweet-ish, seasoning, and a splash of heat… salt & pepper to taste. (EVOO, balsamic, no-salt seasoning blend, margarita mix or OJ, salt and pepper make a great dressing in under 5 minutes).

Back to the cous… once done simmering, I removed it from the heat and tossed with a little EVOO to avoid it getting sticky. I transferred it into a larger dish so I could spread it out and help cool it quicker. Once it had cooled I tossed it with the veg and dressing and voila!

Starting around 4:30, I finished the salad and cleaned up the kitchen all before the “sometime after 4:00” arrival of the floor guys…