Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mediterranean Couscous & Lentil Salad

Every month I get together with friends to swap meals. We'll make a large batch of a dish, portion them out in containers and give everyone a container of our dish to enjoy. This month I prepared a couscous salad since it was something that I could make with limited ingredients and tools, since everything was packed up for our move.

This couscous salad is light, refreshing. I really like preparing couscous because it is a cinch to make and really has a nice fluffy texture that can also absorb whatever flavors you wish to combine it with. I made the recipe as written and added some additional ingredients such as bell peppers and roasted pork to make it a more filling dish.

Mediterranean Couscous & Lentil Salad
adapted recipe from Epicurious

1 cup lentilles du Puy* (French green lentils) or brown lentils
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 bunch arugula, stems discarded and leaves washed well, spun dry, and chopped
2 cups vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1 pound roasted pork, chopped
1/2 cup finely diced sweet mini bell peppers (red, orange, yellow & green)

In a small saucepan simmer lentils in water to cover by 2 inches until tender but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes, and drain well. Transfer hot lentils to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cool lentils completely, stirring occasionally.

In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add couscous and salt. Remove pan from heat and let couscous stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and cool completely, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl whisk together garlic paste, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir lentils and dressing into couscous. Add the bell peppers and pork. Chill salad, covered, at least 3 hours and up to 24.

Just before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.