Summertime and the Cooking is Easy

I just realized it has been over 3 months since I’ve posted anything.  March  through June is probably the busiest time of the year for me.  I work at a greenhouse/flower shop in addition to my other job, and this year I helped organize a new Circle for our county restorative justice program and train new volunteers.  I also attended a 3 day retreat and took a mini road trip to visit family.  The garden is up and growing, and today is too wet to do any weeding, so I had the urge to get back to my blog.

I’ve mentioned before that I love to make soups.  I guess I love dishes where you just throw a lot of healthy, good-tasting stuff together and it turns out so flavorful.  I have the same feeling about salads in the summertime, and I am so glad that my husband loves to eat them!  Our tastes in food are very different, but we both really like soups and salads – another reason I make them a lot.

I continue to cook quinoa often, and the salad I made today called for couscous, but I substituted quinoa.  It has other delicious things in it like dried cranberries, peas, fresh basil, toasted pecans, and chopped cucumber.  The dressing is simple with lemon juice and zest, garlic, and olive oil.  Delicious!

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Here’s the actual recipe:

1 cup pecans (I cut them in half)

1 1/2 cups couscous                 1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 tsp. turmeric                      2 cups boiling water

1 cup thawed frozen peas         3 scallions, very thinly sliced

2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, diced

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil

Dressing:

zest of 1 lemon                          1/3 cup lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced            1/2 tsp salt        Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

1. Toast the pecans in a shallow pain in a preheated 350 degree oven, about 7 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Place the couscous, cranberries, and turmeric in a large bowl.  Pour in the boiling water, stir, then cover the bowl with a large plate of foil.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Remove the cover, then fluff the couscous with a fork.  Cover again and let sit 5 more minutes. *

3.  Stir in the pecans, peas, scallions, cucumbers, and basil.

4. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously.  Pour onto the couscous mixture and stir to blend.  Let the salad sit for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.  If longer than 1 hour, cover and chill, but then bring the salad to room temperature before serving.  If you make the salad more than one hour before you plan to service it, don’t add cucumber until shortly before serving.

*I rinsed one cup of quinoa, then put it in a pan with 2 cups water and let it come to a boil.  Turn heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes.  After I removed it from the heat, I added the cranberries and turmeric and let it sit covered for 10 minutes.

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It’s so nice to have things like this in the refrigerator when you are too busy or it is too hot to cook.  Add some sliced melon, maybe some cornbread or focaccia, and you have a simple summer meal!

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