For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I keep typing this recipe title as Roast BEE Couscous Salad. Why leave the f off the beef? You’d think I’d be misspelling couscous. Plus roast bees should never, ever happen.
Anyway, we inadvertently went and made something healthy at the beginning of the New Year. It’s not that we’re against healthy food here, quite the contrary. We love healthy food and firmly believe that it can be tasty and yummy and all other good food adjectives. But the cheesecakes and the tarts and the creamy gooodness-es out there are just…so good! We want to try it all. But it’s such a trend in the food world to focus on healthier foods after our tendency to indulge over the Holiday Season. And honestly? I was getting a little burned out on thinking about and cooking heavier Holiday foods anyway. Sometimes you really do just need and want something lighter.
There’s a couple of ingredients and methods for this salad that were a little surprising for me, but they turned out to be the “in a good way” way. I almost left the golden raisins out, for example. Hubby’s not too keen on fruit in his meals, not the dinner variety anyway, and it’s almost as if I’ve unintentionally trained myself to avoid things like that. But – SO glad I left them in.
You rawk, golden raisins. Get in there, get in my salads.
The veggies in this one are roasted – which I’m all for. Roasting gives veggies such a nice, subtly different flavor. I was surprised to see this method in a salad. I’m used to your average, everyday plain jane salad, I suppose. Lettuce, a few raw veggies, maybe some plain grilled chicken and some dressing. Thank goodness salad doesn’t have to be that way.
You hear me, salad? You may be good for us, but we still demand something bright, lively and refreshing from you.
The couscous and raisins are cooked just a little. It takes no time at all, which is one of the best traits about couscous. While this Israeli or pearl variety does take a little longer (five minutes more or so) than regular couscous, it’s still very much a friendly weeknight meal option.
The dressing is a simple, healthy one: low-fat Greek yogurt, chili paste or a hot chili sauce such as Sriracha, apple cider vinegar and just a touch of sugar. The sugar was our add-in because the dressing was just so extremely tangy. About a half to one teaspoon of sugar helped cut that just enough.
All that’s left to do is combine, combine, combine. The vegetables have helped wilt the greens slightly, the couscous and raisins are ready and the dressing brings it all together.
Probably the best thing about this meal in terms of ease to make is the roast beef – you just get some from your deli! Heck, in a pinch, some Oscar Meyer sliced sandwich meat would probably do just as well. You did not have to cook an entire roast and save some leftovers to make this. That alone makes this one a superstar on our list of easy, damn good weeknight meal options.
This was such a delightful salad. You’ll notice that we used spinach instead of escarole as the recipe suggests, and that worked out great since my grocery store can’t be bothered to carry escarole. I don’t think they realize that I alone would buy enough of the stuff for them to justify having it on the shelf if they’d only give me a chance to buy it. But spinach is always our go-to substitute and it is great in this.
If you’re ready to ease back a little in the meal arena after the Holidays but don’t want to sacrifice great taste, texture and overall enjoyability, this is the perfect salad. I guarantee it.
Roast Beef Couscous Salad
from Food Network Magazine, December 2011
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Level: Easy Servings: 4
- 6 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 3/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons harissa or other hot chile paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1 head escarole, torn into bite-size pieces (spinach also works well)
- 8 ounces deli-sliced roast beef, cut into bite-size pieces
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the carrots and onion on a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Roast until tender and slightly golden, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the couscous as the label directs, adding the raisins in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the couscous and raisins and rinse under cold water.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the harissa, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 to 3 tablespoons water until smooth. Optional: if the dressing is a little too tangy, add in the sugar a 1/2 teaspoon at a time or so until it tastes a little less so. It will still be tangy, just not quite so tart.
Put the escarole in a large bowl and add the roasted carrots and onion; toss to wilt the greens slightly. Add the couscous-raisin mixture, the dressing and the roast beef and toss to coat. Divide the salad among plates.
I personally wouldn’t change much about this salad at all. It was wonderful. That being said, I’m aware some might not like the deli roast beef. Can you try other meats in this? I’m pretty sure you could and come out happy with it. If you try something different we’d love to hear how it went for you.
Don’t like meat? Leave out the beef and you’ll still have a darn good salad.
The dressing makes a lot, so use it at your discretion. We used a little more than half of ours. It was just enough to lightly coat everything without the dressing shouting from the rooftop.