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Sunday Salad Samplers - Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dates & Cinnamon

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Today's recipe comes from blogging friend Annie of Churches of Venice. Annie writes:

I found this recipe on the McCormick spice website after a friend brought me a big bag of cinnamon from Vietnam and I started looking for savory recipes to use it in. The recipe was created by Suzanne Goins from the Los Angeles restaurant Luques.

I use whole wheat couscous and sometimes substitute dried apricots for the dates. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Vietnamese cinnamon is pretty strong so if you're using regular cinnamon, you might want to use a little bit more. This is a great party/potluck recipe (it keeps and travels well).

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dates & Cinnamon

3 green onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 (10 ounce) package couscous

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and
drained
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
(optional)

Directions

Finely dice white end of green onions. Slice green parts of green onions and reserve for salad. Gently cook white onion pieces in olive oil 5-7 minutes in a medium saucepan. Stir in chicken broth, cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and red pepper. Bring to a boil; add couscous. Cover and remove pan from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Whisk together vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and olive oil in a small bowl.

Fluff couscous with a fork; put in a large bowl. Toss in sliced green onions, chickpeas, carrots, dates, pinenuts, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; add vinaigrette and toss again. Serve right away or chill. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.


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I made this delicious couscous salad for lunch last week and my husband and I loved it. I made it almost exactly as written except for a few adjustments. I used Israeli couscous and omitted the cinnamon which we, for the most part, like only in sweets. Skipped the pinenuts due to finding that they have turned rancid in my pantry (heat in the dessert will do that to stored nuts and oils). My carrots were blanched and diced instead of shredded.

We liked all the flavors combined in a healthy and tasty salad, along with the different textures and the sweetness of the dates. It was all good and so yummy. I'm looking forward to making this salad again soon. I think it would be a fine side dish to a chicken or fish tagine. Next time I'm going to get adventurous and try to make it with cinnamon, using maybe half a teaspoon.

We ate the salad with a delicious Moroccan chicken recipe I found on Amy's blog called Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon.

Thank you for sharing this great recipe, Annie.


Comments (12)

I've never had Israeli couscous so I want to try that sometime. Yours looks delicious! Let me know if you like it with cinnamon. That's a beatiful striped tomato in your photo too.

Hope you're having a good weekend and keeping cool.

We also loved this salad, we really enjoyed the cinnamon flavor in there, it was definitely obvious, but well balanced with the other flavors I thought.

You got me curious about the Israeli couscous, I think my mom calls it maftoul. Did it take you longer to cook that than regular couscous? My mom cooks it a lot, normally with a tomato sauce and eggplants, it tastes different than regular couscous.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Maria, your salad looks delicious. I loved Annie's recipe and I will definitely make it again too. It's cool that you used Israeli couscous for your salad and your Moroccan chicken looks really good too. Maybe I can try Israeli couscous too. The way Candi's mom cooks couscous sounds delicious too.

Have a great day today!

Hi again, I left a comment on my blog too but thought I'd come over here and say thanks for the update about Spice; I've been wondering and am glad to hear that he's feeling better and even eating a bit. Maybe he's decided to stick around a while longer! And Polaris being a vet tech is great because you know he's getting the best of care.

Annie, you noticed the striped tomato! Last week Trader Joe's was selling 3 lb boxes of organic heirloom tomatoes at about 1.50 a pound. They were really good and sweet. I wished I had bought two boxes because they were gone in no time.

I appreciate your kind words and thoughtful comment on Spice. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a miracle. Maybe I should pray to Saint Gaetano Catanoso. ;)

Candi, yes, it takes longer, about twice the time. The Israeli couscous I use (from Whole Foods) needs to be toasted in olive oil before adding water to it. Then the (boiling) liquid is added to the couscous and cooked covered until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. It does tastes different than regular couscous, more like pasta. I like the nutty flavor produced by toasting it.

Your mom's recipe sounds delicious! Any chance you can ask her for the recipe, please? :)

Kathy, if you like pasta in small shapes, like orzo or stelline (little stars) you will certainly like Israeli couscous. It's easy to find at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods; you'll find it next to the grains.

I'm making Annie's recipe next week as part of a Moroccan dinner I'm making for my friends. It's great to have a salad recipe that can be made the day before and that keeps so well without refrigeration.

Yes, praying to "my cousin, the saint" certainly can't hurt!

I made a pasta salad last night using a pasta I've never cooked with before. It's called "fregola" and is from Sardinia. Have you heard of it? It's toasted and then dried, and cooks in 6 minutes, and looks very much like Israeli couscous. They might be related somehow? Anyway, it was delicious with a nutty toasty flavor.

No, never heard of fregola before. I searched on the Web and it does look like Israeli couscous. Some called it a cousin to couscous so they might have a common origin. One website described fregola as having a "nutty, wheaty, roasted taste ". Over at Serious Eats I found a great-looking recipe by Gina DePalma for Saffron Fregola with Potatoes and Peas. I'm going today to Whole Foods to buy the ingredients for Ida's salad and I'm hoping to find fregola. Gina’s recipe might be on the menu tonight!

Here's the link to her recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/07/seriously-italian-fregola-saffron-peas-potatoes-recipe.html

That's it! And that recipe looks very good. I think I've got some saffron at home...

I bought the fregola on a whim at a local gourmet grocery; it was kind of pricey so it's definitely something I'll be looking for in Italy to bring back. I haven't looked for it in Whole Foods so let me know if you find it there.

The salad I made last night was basically tabbouli but with fregola instead of bulghur wheat. It came out great.

And thanks for the link to Serious Eats - looks like a great website!

Yum, I love tabbouli! I bet the nutty toasty flavor was great.

I went to a couple of Italian delis/markets, Whole Foods and a gourmet store and didn't find the pasta. One shop told me that they usually carry it but they were out but a new shipment may come in next week. There are a number of online shop (@6.99 for a lb, pricey indeed!) where I can buy it from but I'll wait 'till next week.

I regularly check the Serious Eat website for Gina's recipes and I also like looking at all the yummy photos under "photograzing".

We just had Ida's salad for lunch and it was delicious. I might try it next time using fresh sweet tomatoes to balance out a bit the acidity from the rest of the marinated ingredients.

Maria,

My mom is not good at sharing recipes, because she doesn't measure anything, however, I am visiting my family next month, and she will probably make maftoul for us, and I will try to "get" her recipe. It is really very good.

On another note, I am still sick, over a week later, and my voice is still gone. Thanks for asking about it. It is raining on and off here, we are waiting for Felicia(a tropical storm), and while we are doing that we are going to watch Julie& Julia. I am excited about it.

Maria, your salad looks simply beautiful and sounds wonderful. I think I am going to go to TJ's this week and get what I need to make it. Thank you for sharing ! Hope you are having a nice week.

Sandra, you're going to love this yummy salad. It's so easy to put together and the flavors in the dressing are well balanced.

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