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Friday, April 29, 2011

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Before we get started today, I need to jump on the royal wedding bandwagon. I've actually always been on the royal wedding bandwagon.  In 1981, my mother and I watched Charles and Diana's wedding together.  I was too young to remember watching, but I do remember that dress.  I visited St. Paul's Cathedral when I went to England at age 15, and hoped I'd run into William around London and he might decide that I'd make a good princess.  If it wasn't going to be me, Kate makes an excellent choice.  I confess that I haven't seen all the coverage yet today (although of course I DVR'd it), however, my first impression is that she looked lovely and they seem very happy.  It has been reported to me that they had the same hymn at their wedding as we did at ours, and also my mother said Kate didn't look as beautiful as I did on my wedding day, but mothers are supposed to say things like that.

I should have made scones.  Instead I made couscous.

This salad was born out of a realization that I had nothing ready for dinner.  It's a very simple chopped salad that comes together in about 5 minutes.  It has all the characteristics of a great meal salad, vegetables, protein, grains, and healthy fat to keep you full, give you energy, and make your skin look good.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad
Ingredients:
1/2 cup uncooked Israeli couscous (sometimes called pearl couscous)
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup cubed feta cheese
1 handful baby spinach leaves
1/4-1/3 cup lemon tahini dressing

Lemon Tahini Dressing
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup tahini
kosher salt
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Blend lemon juice, tahini, salt and garlic together in food processor or blender.  Add olive oil until dressing reaches desired consistency.

Some days you need all the food processors.

Cook couscous according to package directions.  I boiled for 6 minutes until tender, and then drained.  Of course, you can use any grain you like here. Or, in my case, any grain you have a random amount of in your pantry.
Chop remaining ingredients and combine in a bowl.
When couscous is cooked, add to the bowl and top with dressing.
Mix well.
Serves 2 for main course.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swedish Turkey Meatballs

I've been working on a Swedish Meatball recipe for a while.  I've been piecing together recipes and have gotten pretty close to what I want. It's all about the sauce now, finding the balance between creamy and flavorful but not too thick or including cream of anything soup.

Swedish Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:
2 slices sandwich bread (or 1/2 cup breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
3 Tablespoons sherry
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 Tablespoons sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray.
In the bowl of your mixer, or any large bowl, tear the bread into small pieces (or breadcrumbs) and soak with the milk. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
In a large saute pan (big enough to put all the meatballs in at the end, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter and saute the onion until soft.
To the milk and bread mixture, add the onion, ground turkey, egg, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper.  If you have fresh nutmeg to grate, it makes a huge difference.  I grate mine on the fine microplane.


Turn on the mixer (or stir with a big spoon), until fully combined.  About 1-2 minutes on low.  Do not overmix, because the meat can get tough, and no one wants tough meat.
Using your hands, portion out and roll the meatballs.  Mine were about 1-1 1/2 inches diameter.  I made 27 total.  You can try to use a spoon or a mini scoop, but it's just easier with your hands.
Bake meatballs for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.


With about 10 minutes left in your meatball cooking time, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in the saute pan over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk to make a roux.  Slowly add the beef broth, whisking constantly, and cook until thick.  


Add the sherry, Worcestershire and sour cream.  If you have real sherry for drinking, use that.  Or use the cheap cooking sherry from the market, like I did.
Once the meatballs are cooked, add them to the sauce and cook until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
I served these over whole wheat egg noodles and asparagus.  When I put the meatballs in the sauce, I turned on the water to boil.  I added the egg noodles and cut asparagus and cooked for about 5 minutes.  


From my taste tester (aka Jon): "Swedish meatballs are the best meal.  And tacos."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tomato and White Bean Soup

Tomato soup and grilled cheese is one of my favorite meals of all time.  This soup is especially good because it uses pureed beans to thicken, which adds protein and creaminess without adding fat.  It is also made from ingredients you might already have in your pantry, so it's easy to pull together for a quick lunch or supper.

The first time I attempted tomato soup at home, it did not go well.  After simmering the ingredients together, I used a blender to puree it in batches.  I didn't let it cool before blending, however, and the steam made the lid lose it's seal.  A couple blending batches in, I filled it a little too full, and that combined with the compromised lid seal led to disaster.  Tomato soup on the ceiling, the cabinets, the floor, and me.  I went out that night and bought an immersion blender.  Best $30 I've ever spent on an appliance.

Tomato and White Bean Soup
recipe from Giada DeLaurentis

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil, or some combination
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz. can cannellini, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
optional topping - creme fresh and lemon zest

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil or butter over medium heat.
Saute vegetables for a few minutes, until softened and translucent.

Add in spices, cannellini, crushed tomatoes and broth.  Cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Using either a blender, food processor, or an immersion blender (my strong recommendation), puree soup until thick.  Do not do what I did which was to accidentally blend the bay leaf.

Makes an excellent dipper for toasty cheese sandwiches.  If you're feeling a little fancy, you can add some baby spinach leaves at the end to make a florentine thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Carrot Cake

Carrot is my favorite kind of cake.  This may be because cream cheese is my favorite kind of frosting.  Plus, you're eating vegetables, so it's "healthy".  Eat enough carrots and you get a nice fake tan (ie. your skin turns orange).  Eat enough carrot cake and you'll get more than a fake tan, but we're all about moderation around here.  


Carrot Cake
recipe from Joy of Baking
Ingredients:


3/4 pound (340 grams) raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated)
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar (I would cut this down to one cup next time, it was pretty sweet!)
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, vegetable or canola oil(or other flavorless oil)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (optional, but makes the cake super moist)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams)cream cheese, room temperature
cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugarsifted
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. 
Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. 
Peel and finely grate the carrots. You can grate the carrots by hand, but that's a bit tedious.  If you have a food processor, you can use the grating disc to shred the carrots in a few moments.  I considered that option, but the food processor is all the way in the basement, and I already had enough appliances on the counter.  I used the handy grating attachment for my KitchenAid.  When I bought my mixer, I had the option of one of two free gifts.  The grater/slicing attachment you see here, or the meat grinding attachment.  Nothing cool like the pasta or ice cream attachment.  Since I don't do a whole lot of meat grinding, I went with the grater.  




In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.
In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the applesauce and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. 
With a large rubber spatula, fold in the grated carrots. I used to get nervous when directed to fold into batter.  I know the point is to mix while not eliminating all the air you've previously beaten in.  I don't think I've ever ruined a cake by folding improperly, so just remember to make big scooping motions and turn the bowl as you go.
Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  


Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting. I made the cakes a day in advance and wrapped them in plastic for the night.  



Cream Cheese Frosting:
In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, just until blended with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth.  Beat in the vanilla extract, and lemon zest.



To assemble: place one cake layer onto your serving plate. Spread with about half the frosting. Gently place the other cake onto the frosting and spread the rest of the frosting over the top of the cake. If desired, garnish with toasted nuts or coconut on the top of the cake. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.


This was part of the Easter dessert spread at my in-laws.  We had a few slices leftover, and I can say they are even better when chilled in the fridge.  I had planned to freeze the rest, but we'll see how that goes.


  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday Pizza

Last night was pizza night, because it was Friday, and Good Friday, and I actually had someone to eat dinner with for a change.

I used the usual recipe for pizza dough, and did an assortment of vegetable toppings.  One pizza had lightly sauteed red peppers, and onions.  The other was topped with roasted broccoli, asparagus, and grape tomatoes.  The sauce on both was just crushed tomatoes, oregano and garlic.  For cheese I used freshly grated mozzarella and a few dots of ricotta.  I would highly recommend topping pizza with ricotta, it adds a whole other flavor of mild creaminess.

Also, Jon would like to add that the Chimay Grande Reserve you see in the background of these pictures is excellent, and a perfect accompaniment to pizza.



Friday, April 22, 2011

New Dishes!

I have no recipe to share with you today, because I've eaten egg sandwiches for my last three meals.

I will, however, branch out from my usual food-based posts to share the fantastic present I received yesterday.

I met my dear friend Heidi on the first day of orientation at college.  Those of you who went to Richmond know we were pretty much inseparable after that.  She shares my love of wonderfully bad 80s music and movies, egg sandwiches, shopping, and wine drinking.  I also trust her sense of style implicitly, because we showed up to the first event of college orientation wearing exactly the same dress.

Yesterday, she had a big box delivered to my doorstep packed with adorable Anthropologie dishes!  I am thrilled to have a few more interesting patterns to add to my dish cabinet, and you can look forward to seeing these on the blog very soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Water Kefir - Drink To Your Health

Water Kefir is amazingly good for you.  It is naturally antibiotic and antifungal, and contains a variety of healthy bacteria and yeast, as well as vitamins and minerals.  WaterKefirGrains.com has a whole list of the benefits, but there's nothing bad about it.  Natural detox and rebalance, what more can you ask for?

Once you have the grains, they will multiply and potentially live forever.  You can buy grains online, or you can get 1/4 cup of grains from someone that already has live water kefir.  Lucky for me, my sister is my source for all healthy and random foods, and gave me water kefir grains a couple months ago.

Store the water kefir grains in water in the fridge.

To make water kefir:
Drain and rinse the grains.

In a quart sized mason jar (or other glass jar with a tight fitting lid), dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in water.  Add in the grains, 1/4 lemon, 1/4 cup of raisins.  You can use a variety of different fruits.  Don't be intimidated by the sugar.  The grains eat the sugar, it's not like drinking soda.
Seal the lid and allow to sit at room temperature for about 48 hours.

Here is what it looks like after 24 hours.

And 48 hours.  If you look very closely, you can see that tiny carbonation bubbles have formed.

Using a spoon, remove and discard the raisins.  Squeeze the lemons into the kefir and discard rinds.  Strain kefir grains, reserving liquid.  Split water kefir between two pint sized mason jars, seal, and put in the refrigerator.  Allow to sit, sealed, in the refrigerator for at least a day.  This allows more carbonation bubbles to form.  Rinse and cover grains with water in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.

I really enjoy the flavor of water kefir.  It's carbonated, not like soda, but more like sparkling water.  It has a very low alcohol level from the fermentation, and the hints of fruit from the raisins and lemons make it naturally sweet.  It's refreshing and a nice change from water.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Curried Broccoli Couscous

This is one of those recipes I always come back to.  It's a nice change from the usual Italian or Greek flavored cold salads, and has some of my favorite ingredients (broccoli and feta).  In case you haven't noticed, I like to top almost everything with at least a little cheese. I would make an unsuccessful vegan. 

Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta
recipe from Cooking Light
Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked couscous (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets (I probably used about double)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup shredded carrot (I grated the carrots on my large microplane grater)
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Add couscous, remove from heat, and cover for at least 5 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Steam the broccoli florets until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. 

In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, chickpeas, and cooked couscous.
Mix dressing ingredients (vinegar through salt) in a separate bowl and pour over vegetable mixture.  I used a mason jar for mixing my dressing, and shook to combine.  No whisk necessary!


Toss in feta and raisins for serving.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Salmon Salad

I love seafood, especially fish, and I'm making an effort to incorporate more into my diet.  All those good omega-3s and all that.  While canned tuna can be high in mercury, canned salmon is all good.  Of course, you can use fresh if you have some leftover from dinner the night before.  I liked this salad so much I'm planning to stock up on canned salmon next time I go to BJ's.  And also the huge multi-pack of Sharpies, because those are obviously necessary.

Inspired by Kath Eats and her Super Salmon Salad, this can definitely be a dish where you throw in whatever is in the fridge and strikes your fancy.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dried wheat berries, cooked according to directions.  I soaked overnight, and then drained, rinsed, covered with fresh water, and simmered for 45 minutes.
1 can salmon, drained
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried dill, or 1 Tablespoon fresh

Vegetables - these are just what I had around, use whatever you like in whatever quantity looks good
cucumber
celery
red bell pepper
red onion

Combine all ingredients and toss well.  I ended up sprinkling mine with a little goat cheese at the end, because goat cheese makes most everything better.  Especially good with crackers, pita, or tortilla chips for scooping.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grilled Barbecue Chicken

As some of you already know, my husband and I bought a house and moved to the suburbs almost a year ago.  Prior to that, we lived in an apartment in Brookline, MA.  Our apartment was wonderful in many ways, not the least of which was the proximity to our favorite thai food and craft beer restaurants.

Off the back of our apartment building we had a little deck, which was small and had a view of the parking lot.  Not exactly the type of place to lounge outside on warm evenings.  We did, however, have room for a small gas grill.  We bought the Weber that is actually designed for tailgating, but you can stick it on a stand and pretend it's supposed to be used at home, too.  Everything was going wonderfully until all our neighbors saw we were grilling and put grills on their decks, too.  Not long afterwards, the fire marshal posted that grills on decks are illegal and they needed to be removed.  That was the end of grilling at our apartment.

Last summer we were thrilled to resume grilling outside.  We set our little gas grill up next to our porch and feasted on burgers and grilled vegetables all summer.  The gas grill is small, and not as hot as it could be, so we didn't attempt fancier or more complicated cuts of meat.  To clarify, by we, I mean Jon, because I was scared to turn on the grill thinking it would flare up and my hair would catch on fire.

A few months ago we started researching new grills. Now that we are completely settled in our house, we are looking forward to hosting barbecues this summer, and need to be able to feed more than four people at a time.  After lots of time spent researching features, reading reviews (this was Jon), and suggesting pretty colors (that was me), we had agreed on a fancy Weber gas grill.  But then, we thought, we have a gas grill, why not take this opportunity to become grill purists and go with charcoal?  Food cooked over charcoal (never with lighter fluid) tastes better.  It does take a few more minutes of preparation, but we usually reserve grilling for weekend evenings anyway.  And so, we have a shiny new Weber charcoal grill.  There's a learning curve to cooking over charcoal, but we've made progress, and the results have been pretty good so far.  Last night we decided to give barbecue chicken a try, and it was delicious.

No recipe today, we just used thinly sliced chicken breasts (next time I would go with regular breasts), grilled on one side for a few minutes, flipped and added sauce, and then flipped again and cooked indirectly (away from the coals) to finish.  Served with a classic baby red potato salad, this meal put me in the mood for Summer!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Recipes I Can't Wait To Try

As usual, there are a whole bunch of beautiful and appetizing recipes that have been posted by my favorite bloggers recently.  I can't wait to try these!

Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Cake - Beantown Baker
Carrot cake and cheesecake are easily my two favorites cakes.  Combining them into one fabulous dessert? Decadent and amazing!  Now I just need to find people to help me eat it...

Crispy Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus - Steamy Kitchen
I can't get enough asparagus in the Spring.  You'll be seeing more of it on my blog at the end of this week!  This would be so lovely accompanying a nice dinner.

Mmmm Sauce - Peas and Thank You
This looks amazing.  I need to get some nutritional yeast.  I think you can get it from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.  Added bonus, you will thank me for directing you to Peas and Thank You, because it is the funniest blog I read.  I literally laugh out loud all the time.  So, your day will be brightened.  You are welcome.

Swiss and Ham Tartlets - Baked Bree
I bet these would be delicious (and a little simpler) using small thin bread rounds as the crust.  The possibilities for fillings are endless.  A great make-ahead hors d'oeuvres.  I can see myself using this recipe as inspiration for cocktail party food all the time.

Pearl Barley with Edamame and Peas - Running From The Kitchen
This looks so light and lovely, and I've been meaning to add pearl barley to my pantry.  I bet you could even add some asparagus!

Bacon and Cheese Muffins - Eat Live Run
I want to host a brunch buffet just so I can serve these.  Savory muffins - yum!

Frosty Punch Romaine - Healthy. Happy. Life
I can't wait to serve these for dessert this summer and regale everyone with the story of how it was the last thing eaten on the Titanic!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Favorite Salad

I think all wonderful salads have a combination of vegetables, fruit, cheese, and a little protein. 
This salad starts with a bed of greens, then topped with sliced apple, dried cranberries, crumbled goat cheese, and sliced almonds.  Dressed simply with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Perfection.

For more beautiful salad ideas, check out Salad Pride.  I bookmark a post from them at least once a week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mini Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is good.  Mini things are cute.  Mini eggplant parmesan is good and cute. 
Lately, when I've been making eggplant parm, I broil the eggplant slices.  It's healthier.  In cooking class in Italy, I learned to make eggplant by lightly dredging in flour and quickly frying.  So, today, I cooked eggplant the classic way, and it was great.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
Ingredients:
3-4 small eggplants, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
kosher salt
canola or vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe below)
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

I like to peel stripes in eggplants before cooking.  The skin helps the eggplant stay together, but it can be tough.  When you peel in stripes, you get the best of both worlds, and it looks nice.

Slice the eggplant and put slices in a colander.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for at least an hour.  The salt draws the water out of the eggplant, and helps prevent a soggy dish.
Here they are sprinkled with salt.
And then an hour or so later, you can see all the water that's been pulled out.



To make the tomato sauce:
In a medium saucepan, heat a couple teaspoons olive oil over medium low. 
Add 1-2 small cloves of garlic, and cook a few minutes until fragrant.
Add in basil and oregano (fresh if you have it, dried if you don't).
Add in 14 oz. crushed tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a large saute or frying pan, heat about a 1/4 inch oil over medium high heat.  You want to fry very quickly just to create a crispy crust on the eggplant.  The longer you fry, the more oil it will absorb, and greasy eggplant is not good.  Lightly dredge the eggplant slices in flour and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side.  If it's taking longer, raise the heat.  Be careful when putting the eggplant into the oil, because oil can pop out of the pan.  It burns.  And then you'll be there wishing you hadn't stuck your arm over the pan.
When the eggplant is cooked, it will be a nice brown color and have a slightly crispy crust.  I ate about 5 of these little rounds just to make sure they were good. They were.

Spread a little sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  This prevents the eggplant from sticking.

Put a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom, I fit 12.  Add a teaspoon of sauce and a slice of mozzarella.

Repeat layers as high as it stands up, I fit four before they started to lean precariously.  Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12 minutes.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crustless Spinach Quiche

My aunt gave me a quiche dish and a recipe for crustless quiche.  I like getting recipes as gifts, because I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that I like to read recipes.  You don't need a quiche dish to make this, a pie plate will work, but with the right dish it's prettier.  And pretty counts.  And a quiche dish is uniformly deep, so it will cook more evenly.

Eggs are one of my favorite foods.  I think I would take them if I was abandoned on a desert island.  Eggs and hand lotion.  If you saw the state of my hands, you'd understand.

Crustless Quiche
adapted from my aunt, Harriett
Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bag baby spinach, or 1 box frozen spinach, thawed
olive oil
5 large eggs
1 cup milk or half and half (I used 1% milk)
1-2 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Butter of spray a 10" quiche dish or a glass pie plate.
Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet, and saute onion for about 5 minutes.  Add in the spinach and cook until wilted.  Cooking fresh spinach is fun, because it starts out huge.

And then after a few minutes of cooking and turning, it ends up small.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.
Spread spinach mixture evenly over the bottom of the dish, and pour egg mixture over the top.

Sprinkle with cheese. I used a little over a cup of pepper jack.  Because, as you know, I like the spice.

Bake 30 minutes, or until the quiche is slightly puffed, golden, and set in the middle.

Allow to cool slightly before cutting.  I actually made this last night and then reheated a slice in the toaster oven.  Of course, fresh is best, but this reheated very well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another Spin on Caprese Couscous

While posting this recipe, I realized that I had already shared Caprese Couscous with you a month ago.  This one is slightly different, so I'll share again.  
As you can tell, I love Caprese salad.  Juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fragrant basil are the perfect combination in my book.  While on our honeymoon in Italy, in addition to the best pizza in the world, we ate Caprese salad nearly every day.  Even on Capri, itself.

Caprese Couscous - Version 2
Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat couscous, uncooked
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into cubes (or use bocconcini cut in half)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3-4 Tablespoons pesto
olive oil
kosher salt
balsamic vinegar

                                 
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan with a lid.  Add a little kosher salt and olive oil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, chickpeas, and couscous.
Stir in pesto until evenly coated.  I added a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, as well.  I used pesto instead of fresh basil, because in April in New England, there is no good fresh basil, and the sad, wilty stuff at the market is expensive.  At the end of the summer last year, I did one final harvest of my basil plant and froze the pesto.  Soon I'll be planting again, so I decided it was time to let the frozen pesto go.  I defrosted in the fridge and it was good as new.  
Great on it's own, cold or room temperature, or over greens.








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