Savory Bean and Pepper Salad, amped-up

November 29, 2009 § Leave a comment


It’s official: I’m back on the couscous bandwagon.  Thankfully, I’m not quite as obsessed as before.  Unlike my earlier college days, I do vary my diet a little; I also eat pumpkin pies, apple crumb cakes and cranberry sauce.  I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: couscous salads are so flexible, you can add whatever you have lurking in your fridge drawers and it’ll probably make a good meal if you spice it up enough.  That said, I’ve been making several grain & veggie salads of late and this one really stood out and, despite the fact that it provided a huge Tupperware of leftovers, two days later there wasn’t a semolina granule to be found.

What made this salad different was the spicing: I didn’t skimp with salt (3/4  teaspoon for the entire salad), chili powder, coriander, cumin, garam masala and cinnamon.  I took a riff from my previous Moroccan Couscous dish with the sweet-tastes (I even added a splash of orange juice at the end).  But I also wanted it to have a bit of a kick, like a chocolate mole sauce, so I included chile peppers, chile powder and a smidgen of cumin for warmth.

The best and most unusual part of this salad was the fact that the couscous played a minor role.  Instead of eating COUSCOUS flaked with a few specks of parsley and a lentil or two, the couscous was the medium to eat nuts, dried fruit and savory, spiced veggies.  Each spoonfull had chew and crunch.

I tried this salad hot, room-temperature and cold.  My favorite was room-temperature.  Conversely, my dad’s favorite was piping hot and my mom loved it cold.  As my cousin Emily said, we’re like the Three Bears.

1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 cup chopped dates and dried apricots

1 large onion, white or yellow
5 sweet chile peppers (or 1 large bell pepper), thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
generous amount of ground pepper
1/2  cup dried beans (I boiled a 12-bean mix from a market bulk bin)
olive oil
1 tablespoon orange juice


1.  Measure 1/2 cup and and boil according to cooking time.  Skim off any white foam that rises to the top during cooking.

2.  In an ungreased sauce pan, toast pine nuts and pecans on medium-high, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Set aside.

3.  Boil amount of water according to couscous instructions.  Remove from heat.  Stir in whole-wheat couscous and chopped, dried fruit.  Cover for five minutes, then fluff.  Set aside.

4.  In a skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add chopped onion and cook until wilted and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.   Add peppers, cook another 3-4 minutes.  Add generous pinch of sea salt and spices.  When cooked, remove from heat.  Toss with couscous salad.  Add more olive oil to taste, pepper, salt if necessary and smidgen of OJ.

5.  When beans are cooked, drain and add to salad.  Toss.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Vegan


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