If you have been reading this blog or follow me on Instagram, you know I love to cook and I absolutely adore starting the week with a refrigerator packed with yummy lunches for the workday. I try to plan for equal parts green, veggie salads and hearty grain or whole wheat pasta salads with bases like farro, wheatberry, couscous or orzo. This particular salad was inspired by the exotic pantry items we brought back from our honeymoon travels through Turkey and a recipe in Ina Garten’s Make Ahead Meals (great book for busy mamas!). The depth of flavor is so easily achieved here – just a pinch of this and a pinch of that in boiling water! So easy!
This is one of those basics that can be modified a hundred ways once you've prepared it the first time. This makes enough for about five lunches.
2 cups whole wheat or Israeli couscous
3 cups organic free range chicken broth
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp Za’atar (if you have it!)
3 lemons (zested and juiced)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cups dried fruit chopped roughly – I used dried, pitted prunes, Turkish apricots, golden raisins & dried cranberries
½ cup sliced almonds
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Put chicken stock, 2 tblsp olive oil, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and za’atar, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Off the heat, stir in couscous and dried fruits then cover and set aside for fifteen minutes.
In a large bowl, combine almonds, chickpeas and chopped veggies.
Fluff couscous with a fork and add to vegetables. Taste for seasoning. If necessary, add more salt or pepper. If you like a bit of heat, some crushed red pepper flakes go a long way in this dish!
Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil then pour over mixture and fold ingredients together until melded.
Note: adding Kalamata olives, feta or goat cheese adds a nice salty bite if you like things on the saltier side. This would also be delicious with fresh chopped herbs like parsley, tarragon, chives or mint. If you’re a vegetarian, swap in veggie broth and you’re good to go! This will last up to a week refrigerated.
Finally, some of my mom friends recently told me that they love the recipes I'm sharing but they're worried their partners or kids won't like one ingredient and therefore boycott the whole meal (isn't that the worst?). If you're dealing with picky eaters, you might consider this weeknight meal strategy offered up in the New York Times back in 2015.
Happy eating loves ♡