Now that it’s warmer outside, I’ve been relying a lot on cool grain salads at lunchtime. So long as I prepare and then cool whatever grain I’m using ahead of time, assembling the salad takes only minutes. Grain salads satisfy me more than leafy or vegetable-based salads these days, and it’s fun to use up the various grains that are still hanging out in my pantry, even three months into quarantine (slow pantry emptying is part of living solo!).
This quick chickpea carrot couscous salad isn’t technically a grain salad, but it eats like one, and it’s also flavorful, filling, and fast. The couscous cooks nearly instantly, and once it’s ready, I can mix the ingredients right away, for a fast, warm meal. Or, I can make and cool the couscous a couple hours before lunchtime, as I’m doing my morning work, and then toss the ingredients together when I’m ready to eat. This takes more time, of course, but it’s so hands-off that it feels equally easy.
I like to use whole grain couscous here, just for the little bit of added nutrition, but regular couscous will work well if that’s what you have. Pearl couscous is also fine, though the texture of your salad will definitely be chewier! If you don’t have couscous at home, no problem. I’d gladly make this with either quinoa or millet, and I probably will at some point.
I kept the dressing light here, and I didn’t even bother whisking or mixing it before I added it to the salad. I just tossed everything together, and the dish wasn’t any worse off for it. You can enhance the flavor by adding more spices, some lemon or orange zest, a pinch of crushed red pepper for heat, or you could mix up the herbs (I use mint and parsley) and/or dried fruit (I used currants). This is similar to my anything goes pantry salad in that it stands up really well to your own tweaks and adjustments. But I can vouch for it just the way it is, because I’ve been enjoying the leftovers for a couple days!
One of the nice things about this dish is that it’s versatile, and you can dress it up or down as much as you need to. It’s nice with a green vegetable as an accompaniment, with some hot or cold soup, with a slice of toast, or on its own, as a quick meal. You can also use the leftovers as a side dish at dinner time; I had some of it with my lemon pepper tempeh cubes and some greens the other night, and it was a really nice, well-rounded meal.
This week has flown by, and it’s been busy, and the sense of forward motion feels really good. I’ll be back around here soon, for the regular weekend roundup.