Monday, April 21, 2014

Israeli Couscous Salad with Almonds, Blood Oranges and Greek Olives

This Easter the hubby and I were hosting a portion of my family at our home.  We have consistently taken either Christmas Eve or Christmas but this was our first time entertaining for Easter.  When it came to what to make, my initial thought was of course brunch.  It is something I love to serve and love to eat so it usually makes perfect sense.  There was just something that told us to try something different.  Our final decision?  A Wine Country Lunch.

The menu was inspired by a recent cookbook I picked up, The New Wine Country Cookbook.  I had my eyes set on trying the Israeli Couscous Salad with Almonds, Blood Oranges and Greek Olives and this lunch made for the perfect setting to give it a whirl.  

Paired with ribs, grilled pineapple, grilled vegetables and white wine, this salad was the perfect way to bring it all together and feel as if we really were in Wine Country.  It was so good in fact that I had another bowl and another glass of white wine with it for dinner.  

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
2 cups vegetable broth
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 blood oranges, chopped
3/4 cup Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1. Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat.  Add the almonds and toast until crisp and golden (5-7 minutes).  Set aside
2. Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic.  Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  
3. Add the couscous and cook until the couscous begins to brown, about 6 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes.
6. Scoop into a large bowl and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and mint.
7. Add the toasted almonds, diced oranges, olives, lemon juice and half of the parsley to the bowl of couscous.
8. Toss gently, season to taste, add the parsley and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

This is only one of many amazing recipes in this book and if you are as much of a fan of wine country as I am, I highly suggest you picking it up.  You can order The New Wine Country Cookbook here.

Beyond simply the food, Easter is such a special day for my family and it also re-centers me and my focus in life.  I loved all the family time and always leave wanting more.  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter as well.

* This recipe was taken from The New Wine Country Cookbook, page 51.


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