Two salads to share this week, with two entirely different results.
The first is from Real Simple, whose recipes are exactly that, real simple. But unfortunately, they’re not simple the way that Alice Waters, Patricia Wells and Ina Garten‘s recipes are simple. They’re just simple. As in plain and simple. At least, that’s what I’ve found most of the time. I will make one exception for a barley risotto recipe that I absolutely love (I should share that with you some time). But that’s not what I made this week.
I found this in the latest issue and it looked like it had potential.
After my success with onion rings, I thought grilled onions were a logical next step. Problem was, there was nothing tying the salad together after all was said and done. It was more like several separate tastes, piled together in a bowl.
But the grilled vegetables made things more palatable.
Salad two is another story. Salad two is from Deb. Which is your first clue that it’s gonna be a winner. Second is that her backstory involves Bethesda. Now I feel even closer to this woman I don’t know. Which made it a little more okay when I completely changed this recipe. I wasn’t reading it too carefully when I was planning meals for the week, thus, I did not purchase enough tomatoes, nor did I slice them in half. I do not enjoy olives so I replaced them with mushrooms. I had already used my final lemon of the week so I left that out and I added more garlic. Also cheese. It turned out better than I could have hoped.
The difference between salads one and two? One had nothing to hold it together. Two was exactly the opposite. After slow roasting grape tomatoes and garlic, you puree them with olive oil, salt and pepper to make this beautiful dressing (that has some sauce potential as well) that will take this salad from just another thing you threw together with whatever was in the fridge to a meal you’ll want to cook again and again.
Pearl Couscous with Olives Mushrooms and Roasted Tomatoes
*This is my version of the recipe. It is similar to Deb’s, but by no means what she made, because it was a weeknight meal and I was too tired to read the directions carefully or measure precise amounts. So there’s that.
For the tomatoes and dressing:
- 1 pt red grape tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves, left unpeeled (mine were pretty small)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the couscous
- 2 1/4 C chicken broth
- 2 C couscous
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/3 C chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- (Deb added mint. Not my fave. I left it out)
For the mushrooms
- 8 oz. mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
- olive oil
For the Parmesan cheese
- Parmesan cheese
4 lists of ingredients? Looks like a lot, doesn’t it? But none are complicated or hard to find. Don’t let that stop you!
Preheat the oven to 250. Wash the tomatoes (slice them in half if you want) and place them in a shallow baking dish with the unpeeled cloves of garlic. Roast them with salt, pepper and olive oil until the skins are wrinkled, a little over an hour. Cool in the pan for about 30 mins. We’ll get back to these guys.
Once you’ve taken the pan out to cool, saute the mushrooms in olive oil, and start preparing the couscous. Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil. Drizzle in a little olive oil. Pour in the couscous and follow the package directions.
Now back to the tomatoes (reminds me of this, which I know is old, but I still love). Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and into the bowl of the food processor.
If you are not sharing this dish with people who are not related to you, you are welcome to take a little bite out of one of the cloves. Because roasted garlic is, I think, one of the wonders of the world. Throw some of the tomatoes in as well (Deb says 1/2 C, but I used about 1/4 since I didn’t have enough tomatoes anyway) with 1/4 C olive oil. This is where Deb added 1/4 C water and some lemon juice too, which I’m confident would brighten things right up, but I didn’t have. Toss in some more salt and pepper, and puree.
Hello chunks of garlic, I can’t wait to eat you (you are welcome to puree your sauce more if that’s how you roll).
Then mix everything up in a nice big bowl. Couscous, shrooms, tomatoes and sauce.
And if you’re anything like me, and you can still taste that roasted garlic in your mouth, you will also add heaps of parmesan cheese.
Then, put a serving in a cute little bowl and enjoy your dinner.
And yes, that is more cheese on top.