There’s nothing quite so wonderful in spring as a hearty salad, like this Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad. I’m in a little bit of limbo right now about whether or not we are going to be moving. Three scenarios are going on in our lives – one is that we stay where we are, one is that we move on the other side of the Portland Metro area, and the other is that we move to the Oregon coast. None of these are bad options and all have some very definite pros when it comes to cooking, food, and resourcing ingredients. But the problem is that it is spring – truly and officially spring, and what I really want to do is start planning and planting a garden. However, I don’t want to drag pots of plants with me when and if we move, so I’m (reluctantly) holding off.
What does this have to do with this Israeli Couscous, Arugula Pesto Spring Salad? Well, not much I suppose, except that I’m desperately craving fresh, spring veggies, and would prefer radishes directly from my garden, but will make do with the ones I found at Whole Foods. That said, if you’ve never planted a radish, and you have a bit of gardening space, plant some radishes immediately. The round orbs of radish will start peeking through the ground in about 45 or so days and there’s something supremely decadent about rinsing off a radish in the hose and eating it right there, whole, out of the garden.
If you haven’t cooked with Israeli couscous before, I encourage you to try it. It’s a slightly larger version of regular couscous, but is also made with semolina flour. It’s a bit toothier – has a bit more chew to it than regular couscous and is fabulous in salads. You might see it labeled as pearl couscous or Israeli couscous. In this recipe, I toasted it a bit first and then cooked it, which gives it a nuttier flavor.
I recommend either paneer cheese or haloumi cheese for this Israeli couscous, arugula pesto spring salad. Both cheeses toast, so you’ll want to take the extra time to get a light brown crust on the cheese. Trust me, it’s worth it.
- 1 tightly packed cup of arugula
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ cup walnuts
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch salt
- 2 – 3 cups arugula
- 1 cup Israeli couscous or pearl couscous
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 package paneer or haloumi cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch salt
- 1 bunch radishes
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the couscous and toast, stirring occasionally for five to seven minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for ten minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Prepare the pesto by either hand chopping the arugula, garlic clove, and walnuts or processing in a food processor. Add the lemon, olive oil, and salt to combine.
- For the salad, chop the radishes into slices and set aside. Slice the cheese into cubes. Preheat a cast iron or non-stick pan and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese with a pinch of salt and then toast the cheese on at least two sides until light brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove from heat and set aside.
- To assemble the salad, start by layering the arugula on serving plates. Add the Israeli couscous on top, and then divide the cheese and radishes on each salad. Spoon the pesto over the salads and enjoy!
- (If you are making these for lunch, and have 1 pint mason jars on hand, layer the other direction. Add arugula to the bottom of the jar first. Add cheese and radishes next and then the Israeli couscous and finally the arugula.)
This post is linked up to Meat Free Mondays at Tinned Tomatoes.
And to #Recipe of the Week