I have this war with carbs (don’t we all!?) and sodium. While making this recipe, it reminded me how easy it is to just whip something up without really looking at the ingredients…and that is exactly what I did.
Couscous is a pasta, and not considered a grain. It’s not as nutrient dense as whole grains (as I had originally thought). Couscous does contain about 40-50 grams of carbs per serving. (Check Food Network here for some more information about couscous.) Although they get a bad rap, carbs aren’t completely bad as long as you are eating a balanced diet. This dish is best used as a side to a dinner that has protein and some leafy greens like a spinach salad; unless you are carb-loading you may not want a whole bowl as your dinner.
Sodium is also a tricky thing. The Near East Plain pearled couscous has 0 mg of sodium while the Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil pearled couscous has 510 mg of sodium. Why such a difference? It’s that little bag of seasoning that causes all that ruckus. I recommend the plain couscous, and I recommend staying away from any seasoning packages. (Check this blog for an awesome, informational rant on seasoning packets!)
1 package (or one cup) of plain Pearled CousCous
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp of lemon juice or zest of half a lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Additional spices like garlic powder, paprika, cumin…whatever sounds good!
- Cook the couscous following the directions on the package.
- Brown the pine nuts in a skillet until light golden brown..kind of like perfectly cooked marshmallows. My definition of perfectly cooked marshmallows is “lightly brown;” hopefully your definition of perfectly cooked marshmallows isn’t “torched and black.” 🙂
- Add the tomatoes, cucumber, lemon (juice or zest), olive oil, salt, and pepper to a medium sized bowl.
- Add the couscous and gently fold together
- Add the pine nuts and scallions to the couscous salad.
- Optional: Add some shredded chicken!
Just a heads up: Pine nuts are a little pricey but very tasty.
You could use some leftover shredded chicken and add it to you couscous salad.