Israeli Couscous with Watermelon, Arugula and Feta

by Michelle on June 26, 2017

It’s been months since I’ve posted anything new, mainly because I’ve been busy with other writing projects and have been relying on my favorite standbys when it comes to meal prep. However, now that summer is here, and my planting is done, and I’m just starting to see little baby zucchini and squash and tomatoes sprouting in the garden, I am ready to harness the season.

A few nights ago, some friends had come over for an impromptu pizza dinner and I wanted to make a quick salad to go with it. I had an abundance of watermelon, as well as some feta and arugula in the fridge. I threw it all together, tossed in some mint I had picked from my garden, drizzled it with good balsamic, olive oil  and a splash of lemon juice and served it to my guests. They raved! So did my husband, who isn’t a huge fan of either watermelon or feta. I filed this salad into the easy, weeknight side dishes folder that exists in my mind.

The next day we had family over for swimming and grilling and I wanted to make this salad again, but I wanted it to be a bit heartier, since I didn’t have time to make a pasta salad. I’m slightly obsessed with Israeli couscous right now (also called pearled couscous), a larger, slightly chewier version of couscous whose texture is similar to barley or farro. I thought it might pair well with the rest of the ingredients.

And oh was I right! This salad is fabulous! I made a big bowl of it and there weren’t any leftovers. It’s light, it’s flavorful, it has cheese and fruit in it…basically it’s everything a summer salad should be. Oh and I did I mention how easy it is? You’ll want to make this salad all summer long!

Note: I first became a fan of Israeli couscous after reading an article about it in Cook’s Illustrated awhile back. Their solution to maximizing the flavor and texture is to toast the couscous in the pot with a little bit of olive oil until it lightly browns, then add water and salt. This really brings out the couscous’ nuttiness. They also recommend spreading the couscous out on a baking sheet and letting it cool before adding it to a salad. Doing so allows it to retain its chewy texture without being gummy. Definitely do this.

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Israeli Couscous With Watermelon, Feta and Arugula 

Serves 6

2 cups of Israeli couscous, uncooked (see directions below)

1 5-ounce clamshell of organic arugula

1-2 cups of watermelon, cubed

1/2 cup feta, crumbled (add more or less to taste)

6-8 sprigs of mint, chopped

Good quality aged balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Lemon juice to taste

Directions for couscous:

Heat the couscous with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until some of the grains turn golden brown. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until most of the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered for three minutes. Transfer the couscous to a rimmed baking sheet and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before adding to the salad.

Add the couscous, arugula, watermelon, feta and mint to a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, balsamic and lemon juice to taste. Give it a toss and serve immediately. (You can also make the couscous ahead of time and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the salad.)

 

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