Now, back to recipes that work.
Couscous or cous cous? I have no idea. But I do know there are a few different varieties of couscous, and the one I've recently become a bit obsessed with is Lebanese couscous. I first saw it in a specialty grocery store here in SF, but never bought it because I didn't really know what I would do with it. Then, when I was in Sydney I had it in a salad with small couscous and the contrast of the tiny couscous pearls with the chewier, larger, Lebanese couscous was insanely good. I immediately decided I would buy that Lebanese couscous when I got home and I would make a salad with it and it would be delicious.
Well, "immediately" became three months later and I finally got around to hunting down the couscous. But as always happens when I specifically want something, the store was out of the Lebanese couscous. I went twice in one weekend hoping they would restock, but each time left disappointed. But I was really craving couscous by this point, so I went to the store and bought some Israeli (or pearl) couscous and decided to just forge ahead anyway.
I'm so glad I did! I combined both couscouses(?) with tons of green stuff, herbs and broccolini and pistachios, as well as a fun spice blend and some blood oranges and labneh, because I thought that creamy, tangy yogurt/cheese hybrid would pair well with everything yet be a little unexpected.
And this ROCKED. It's subtly spiced but flavorful, with a ton of contrasting textures between the crunchy pistachios and al dente broccolini and the citrus and the creamy pockets of labneh. It's refreshing with the herbs and the lemon, and the whole thing is a bowl of goodness you can be excited about.
Just, you know, it would have been 10x better with that Lebanese couscous.
Two Couscous Salad with Labneh, Broccolini, and Blood Orange
This seems at first like a complicated recipe, but I promise, it's not. Just have your mise an place all ready to go and it's easy!
- 1 cup instant couscous (this is the small, "regular" couscous)
- 1/2 cup Israeli couscous (or Lebanese if you can find it)
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 2 1/2 cups broccolini, roughly chopped
- 2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 tbs olive oil, plus more for broccolini and drizzling
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 1/2 tbs baharat (see note)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup labneh
- In a pan over medium-high heat, toast the pistachios until fragrant. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccolini and cook for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a kettle or small pot, and bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
- Heat two separate pots over medium heat and to each, add 1/2 tbs olive oil, 1/2 tbs butter, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tbs baharat. Add the instant couscous to one pot and the Israeli cous cous to the other. Toast the couscous for a few minutes, until spices and couscous are fragrant. To the instant couscous, add 1 cup of boiling water, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit until ready to use.
- To the Israeli couscous, add 3/4 cups boiling water and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, then let sit off the heat for a few minutes.
- While the couscous is cooking, saute the broccolini in a little olive oil until it gets a nice color, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine both the couscouses and fluff with a fork. Add the herbs and toss with the lemon zest and juice and a little olive oil, about a tsp. Taste and adjust seasoning, then add the broccolini and blood oranges. Garnish with pistachio and labneh and serve.
- This really is manageable to do all at once, though you will be using all stove burners. But if that seems too daunting, the broccolini and couscous can be made ahead and combined later. This salad is delicious warm, room temperature, or cold.
- Baharat is a spice mix found in middle eastern or specialty grocery stores, and I've seen it at whole foods. You can also make your own with any recipes online. If you want it to be a little more spicy, you can supplement the baharat with another 1/4 tsp or so of hot paprika.