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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sesame chicken couscous salad

Have you discovered couscous? It's a popular grain dish in the Middle East and North Africa, and it has the versatility of pasta with a shorter cooking time and a delightful light texture. Made from semolina wheat grains coated with flour, couscous is as suited to salads as stews.

This recipe, found on page 50 of Simply In Season (a book you absolutely must have if you have a thriving garden or a CSA share), uses couscous as a base for a crunchy, Asian-inspired vegetable salad that can be served cold or at room temperature.

The only change I made was to use whole wheat couscous instead of the conventional stuff. We eat couscous a lot, and we feel the whole grain version has a much fuller, sweeter flavor. If you can find it, I highly recommend whole wheat couscous.

Sesame chicken couscous salad

Here's the cast of characters:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
2 green onions, sliced
1 large red sweet pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
3/4 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cooked chicken
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Here's how it plays out:
bine chicken broth, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil and bring to a boil. Place couscous in large bowl and stir in boiling liquid. Cover and let stand 7 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in green onions and red peppers and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, steam peas 1 minute. Add broccoli and steam 2 more minutes or until crisp-tender. Rinse in cold water and drain. Add steamed vegetables and cooked chicken to couscous mixture and continue to refrigerate.

For the dressing, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Mix into couscous salad. Just before serving, stir in slivered almonds and sesame seeds.

This is a great summer picnic dish because it's full of summer veggies and it tastes best at room temperature. Happy picnicking!

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