Friday, June 7, 2013

Foodie Friday: Artichoke Couscous Salad

One of my favorite things to do is cook for other people. I don't much care for cooking for myself (although lately, with more free time, it has become a nice way to start my morning with a cooked breakfast or hot homemade lunch), but cooking for others is an unconscious way in which I show my love, I think. Nothing new, I'm sure. It's a common way to show affection through nurturing. 

I have been very fortunate in my time off to hang out more with my friend V and my goddaughter E, who is one of the cutest babies ever. (Oh my goodness, when I get her to smile it feels like winning the lottery.) Since I know V has to do all her household chores with E hanging off her hip, I figure the least I can do when I come over is bring some lunch with me! One less thing to worry about on her own. I like to bring one dish meals, less to carry and easy to scoop in a bowl and eat! So I made Artichoke Couscous Salad for one recent visit.

I originally found the recipe years ago on, but it's disappeared since, which drives me NUTS. I hate not citing source material! I can't find the original recipe, plus I modified it (like I usually do) even the first time I made it. So here's the recipe as I make it now, after several revamps:

  • 1 package Near East Toasted Pine Nut Couscous*, prepared according to directions but subbing chicken or vegetable broth for water
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed (I used frozen) and chopped into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken thighs, grilled and chopped into 1" pieces - I like to use McCormick's GrillMates Roasted Garlic and Herb blend, I sprinkle it on both sides before throwing them on the grill
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese (or more!)
  • 1 lemon
*If you can't find the Near East stuff, or don't want processed stuff, I'd cook 1 cup couscous in 2 cups water or broth, then mix in about 1-2 cloves' worth of minced garlic and 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts when it's done (if raw garlic's not your thing, I'd throw in the minced garlic as the couscous is cooking instead). 

  1. First things first, do all the prep: Cook the couscous, grill and chop the chicken (I use my handy-dandy Foreman), and steam that broccoli! 
  2. Let the couscous, chicken, and broccoli cool; this is optional, but I like the salad cold OR warm. If you mix in the cheese while the couscous is hot, though, it'll get melty! (This is a good dish to make the hot stuff the night before, and let it chill in the fridge, then throw together in the morning.)
  3. Drain the artichoke hearts; I take the time to sort out the leaves that are still tough, and sometimes I get so particular that I take off the leaves and only put in the hearts. I loooove me some artichoke hearts. 
  4. Once the hot ingredients are cold, mix all the ingredients together!
  5. Oh yeah, that lemon: Cut it in half, and squeeze out that juice from at least one half. Mix it in, sample, and if you're happy with it stop. If you think it needs more lemony goodness, use that other half! I like a lot of lemon, so I tend to use a lot. It's a matter of taste, but I highly recommend the acidity that the lemon adds.
It's really easy, really tasty, and really filling (thanks to the chicken and broccoli)! Plus couscous makes a ton, so it's a good dish to make for sharing. Enjoy!

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By Stephanie Lynn

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