Perfectly poised for anyone in need of a speedy salad with ingredients on hand, this couscous salad with dried fruit and nuts is easily adaptable and can be served warm or at room temperature, making it the perfect addition to any entertaining or easy dinner-time table.
The only downfall to keeping a well-stocked pantry? Forgetting to use what you have.
One thing I discovered while doing my recent kitchen detox was that I had a plethora of dried fruits and nuts on hand. True to form, they were hidden under the potato chips and extra packages of tortillas I seemed to have stocked up on and promptly forgotten about. The flat tortilla discs did a mighty fine job of hiding the miscellaneous bags of nuts wrapped with mismatched rubber bands, and the smattering selection of errant nuts could very well could have turned stale with nobody inclined to even notice to make for a protein packed snack.
But once I put things in order in my pantry (man how good did that feel!), my recipe creating ideas were sparked thanks to my fruity, nutty discoveries, and this salad is what happened next.
Pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, is one of my favorite grains to eat in salads, like in my Autumn Couscous Salad. But wait, is it really a grain? Or is it a pasta? The debate rages on. It comes in regular, whole wheat or even tri-colored varieties.
Unlike smaller couscous that is cooked like rice and absorbs the water as it cooks, Israeli couscous is cooked like pasta, and drained. A light rinse in warm water is a good idea so the couscous doesn’t stick and clump and adding the dressing while the couscous is still warm helps the dressing absorb into the grain, adding flavor all the way through.
Any combination of dried fruits will work well in this salad: apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, nectarines or currants would all work equally well.
This salad can be served hot or cold, it works well either way, making it a good candidate for gatherings or potlucks because it will hold well at room temperature, too. One thing I’ve found in making this is if you serve it cold, it really is delicious when it has some time for the flavors to meld, so allowing some time in the refrigerator before serving is a grand idea.
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CousCous with Pistachios, Apricots and Cranberries
- 2 cups Israeli or pearl couscous
- 2 cups dried fruit such as apricots, cranberries or dried cherries, chopped into bite size pieces
- 3/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/4 cup mint chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons honey to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Fluff the couscous and add it to a large bowl with the chopped fruit, pistachios and mint. To a small mason jar, add the olive oil, shallots, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, honey, and a few pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shake the dressing well and add more honey and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the coucous mixture, and stir to combine. The salad can be eaten warm or cold. If cold, allow 1-2 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld.
More Reasons to Goose Your Couscous
Pearl couscous salads are for more than just side dishes, these are all reasons to make them the star of the show.
Tomato Basil Israeli Couscous Salad
My favorite flavors bump up any couscous in every way.
Get the recipe | The Wanderlust Kitchen
Get the recipe | Oh My Veggies
White Bean Couscous Salad with Lemon and Dill
This salad gets a zing from its tasty dressing and is packed with protein for an all-in one meal.
Get the recipe | Lovely Little Kitchen
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