Middle Eastern Couscous with Spinach Salad

Middle Eastern Couscous with Spinach Salad

This fresh and satisfying salad has many variations, making it amazingly versatile. No couscous? Substitute with cooked orzo pasta or rice and ground cumin. No walnuts? Scatter sliced toasted almonds or pine nuts over top. Shy on mint? Or cilantro? Add basil and dill.

1 cup (250 mL) Israeli couscous (also called large couscous)

1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds

1 1/2 cups (350 mL) low-sodium vegetable stock

1/4 cup (60 mL) golden seedless raisins

Finely grated zest and juice from 1 lemon

2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1 small garlic clove, smashed and minced

1/4 tsp (1 mL) sea salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper

3 cups (750 mL) baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry

1/4 cup (60 mL) red onion, finely diced

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped walnuts, toasted

2 Tbsp (30 mL) crumbled feta

In large, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, add couscous and toast for 2 minutes or until pearls begin to turn colour. Stir often. Stir in cumin seeds and continue to toast for 1 to 2 more minutes, stirring often. Slowly add vegetable stock, as it will sputter, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer couscous for about 10 minutes, or until couscous has absorbed all the liquid and is tender-cooked but still has a little bite. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for another 10 minutes. Drain, if necessary.

In small bowl, combine raisins with 1/2 cup (125 mL) hot water and set aside to soak and become plump, about 10 minutes.

In large bowl, combine lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk together to blend. Add warm cooked couscous, spinach, red onion, cilantro, and mint. Drain raisins and add. Fold together to evenly blend and slightly wilt spinach. Taste and add more lemon, salt, and pepper if you wish. Scatter walnuts and feta overtop. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Or cover and refrigerate and serve chilled the same day or next.

Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 244 calories; 8 g protein; 9 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 37 g total carbohydrates (6 g sugars, 5 g fibre); 331 mg sodium