There are a lot of things I love about this dish – its color, its simplicity, its ability to satisfy my craving for summer produce when spring is juuuuuust starting to bud. But most of all I love how quick you can (quite literally) throw it together.
I made this about a week ago when I had to go from work to grocery store to home to stove to table and back out the door again in about an hour. I am a huge advocate for cooking real, whole foods at home. Is it easier for me since I don’t have kids? Probably. Does that mean we’re all destined for a life of hamburger helper? No, absolutely not. It’s simply overcoming the learning curve of knowing what foods cook faster than others. For example, this would probably taste good with brown rice too, but that takes 50 minutes to cook. Israeli couscous takes all of 15. After that, proteins usually eat up the most time in the cooking process but you can eat this with a poached egg, broiled white fish or a can of black beans tossed in with the veggie salad – all of which take 15 minutes or less.
And the photography? Well, I was hungry and in a hurry so I fired off about 15 shots before I sat down and dug in – all with enough time to actually savor the dish. Mmmm.
Spring Veggie Salad
Makes enough for 2 as main dish
- 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
- 3 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
- ½ small bunch of asparagus with last 3″ chopped off
- olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 golden beet, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
- 1 small bunch green onions, chopped (minus the white ends unless you prefer a stronger onion taste)
- 1 small cucumber, cut into ½” dice
- 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 pinch salt and pepper (to taste)
- As you run in the door, pull out small (2 quart) sauce pot and lid. Begin cooking couscous per package directions, except replace water with broth and when it tells you to get the water boiling first, ignore that – that’s for people with time. Instead, set stove timer to remind yourself to check the couscous for doneness about 1-2 minutes before the package recommendations since you’ll be distracted chopping vegetables.
- Get protein cooking if needed. Remember, leftovers from previous night could work well, too.
- Turn broiler on to start warming up the oven. Arrange (read: throw, helter-skelter) asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil plus a pinch of salt and some ground pepper. Roll the asparagus between the cookie sheet and the palm of your hand to coat with olive oil. Put in oven and check once you hear it sizzling for about a minute (4-5 minutes total depending on the thickness of the asparagus stalks). Broil asparagus to your desired doneness (just tender to cooked through with crispy tips), giving the baking sheet a good shake if needed to turn the stalks.
- Pull out your cutting board and favorite knife and start chopping vegetables, tossing them into a large tupperware container as you get each completed. You didn’t forget about your couscous did you?
- In small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The basil and onion add a lot of flavor to this salad, but feel free to add other ingredients/seasonings like garlic, brown mustard or a bit of sugar.
- Add dressing to large container of chopped veggies, onion and basil. Cover and shake that puppy like nobody’s business – a.k.a. “until well coated”. Don’t forget to add in your drained and rinsed black beans if you’re using those. You can also add in the couscous if you want it mixed together all as one.
- Bring together asparagus + protein + salad onto plate/bowl/trough and enjoy.