Beating the Summer Heat

Doing real cooking in the summer is no fun. The stove just adds to the permeating heat that's already trapped inside the house. And attempting to do anything with the oven will just result in dripping sweat.

So to beat the So Cal heat last week, I took to doing as little real cooking as possible and strategize when I'd turn the stove on. The only ingredient that needs heat is the cous cous- 5 minutes to boil and 10 minutes on simmer. Cooking the cous cous first thing in the morning helped too since the thermostat hasn't reached the blazing afternoon temperatures yet.

Israeli Cous Cous Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing
makes 10 to 15 side-dish servings
1 package Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend
1 bunch of multi-colored radishes ($1 at the farmers' market.. steal!)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
3 pickling cucumbers (shorter and chubbier than Persian cucumbers)
1/2 bunch of flat-leave parsley, chopped
2 lemons, zest and juice
1/2 head garlic, minced
4 tbsp maple agave syrup blend (available at Trader Joe's)
Salt and pepper

To assemble salad:

  • Cook Harvest Grain Blends according to directions. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp EVOO to water. The salt helps flavor while the oil helps de-clump the grains.
  • Spread grains onto a large cookie sheet or plate to cool. Use a fork to help separate grains. 
  • When cous cous blend has cooled completely, transfer to a large mixing bowl. 
  • Zest 2 lemons into bowl, carefully avoid zesting the white (pith). The pith is bitter whereas the peel is fragrant. 
  • Cut cucumbers in half and spoon out all seeds. The seeds leak out moisture and will make salad soggy. Then dice
  • Finely dice radish and parsley. 
  • Add in cherry tomatoes (no need to cut). 
  • Season with fresh cracked black pepper and a dash of salt. Gently toss everything together. 

 The dressing:

  • Lightly brown minced garlic with a generous about of EVOO, about 1/4 cup. Keep an eye on them so they don't get burned. 
  • Pour garlic-EVOO mixture into small mixing bowl. Season with 1 tsp salt and some pepper and let cool for 5 minutes. 
  • Juice 2 medium lemons, pick out any seeds. 
  • Slowly whisk juice and syrup blend into oil.
  • Toss dressing with salad evenly. Keep in the fridge until it's time to serve or dig in!  

A good test of any recipe is to bring the dish to a pot-luck. At my friend's birthday bash, this grain salad received some favorable remarks. Perhaps I was among some veggie-loving foodies, but I'm sure even self-proclaimed carnivores would appreciate the refreshing coolness to the afternoon heat.


Unknown said...

yeah that's a really nice dish for hot days, refreshing and light.

Remind me of the Taboule dish, very similar.

delwin said...

delicious =D

Kelly said...

Elizabeth....that looks delicious and perfect in this heat. Looking forward to trying it!

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