I’m really a huge fan of Mediterranean cooking. With all those fresh, aromatic, and fairly straight-forward flavors, well I’m sure it’ll easily be appreciated by most. I turn to that flavor approach for inspiration to give this humble couscous salad a fresh makeover.
To round up this light dish into a more complete meal, let’s add in a protein component. I’ve chosen lamb, having a good personal preference over it, but be free to use your own favorites. Chicken, pork, tuna. . . even some roasted vegetables to keep the dish vegan would all work equally magnificent.
I went for a boneless cut of lamb shoulder and simply cut it into bite-size strips. Working on your cuts of meat, keep in mind that our intended cooking time will be really short, so you may want to stay away from making inappropriately chunkier pieces.
Generously season your meat with salt and pepper as this’ll be the only significant flavor they’ll get. The quick salad dressing in the end won’t be enough to flavor them deeply.
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a pot and give those lamb pieces a good sear. Try not to stir too often to allow the meat to develop a nice brown crust. Remember, more color means more flavor.
This’ll be the same pot we’re cooking our couscous in so you may want to choose one with a good-fitting lid.
Once the strips of lamb are nicely browned, pour the chicken stock into the pot and bring it to a rapid boil. In fact, any flavored liquid, including plain water would work. If I had found some lamb stock while shopping for my ingredients, I’d definitely go for that.
As soon as your stock boils, add the couscous in, give it a quick stir, put the lid on, then turn the heat off. Leave the lid on for 5 minutes and you’re done.
Try to get everything done quickly from the moment the stock boils. You wouldn’t want to lose too much on your level of stock through evaporation.
Be free to add any herbs, spices, or aromatics in the pot before putting the lid on. For this recipe, some lemon peel would add a pleasant touch of fragrance.
Meanwhile, whisk some olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Once nicely incorporated, toss in the chopped tomatoes and onions. Again feel free to add any other salad components you wish. Some nuts, dried or fresh fruit, or crumbled feta cheese would be my suggestions.
Getting back to our couscous, fluff them with a meat fork, going gently so as not to mush them while doing so.
Once free from clumps, toss the couscous and lamb into the bowl of vegetables. Add more lemon juice, salt, pepper, or chopped rosemary as you wish.
Being a fan of lamb and Mediterranean food, I really enjoyed this simple dish. In fact, I’ve been eating the leftovers from the fridge for a few days now.