Sunday, July 17, 2011
You might have noticed a slight trend around here these days. And that trend would be lunch. Big batches of make-ahead recipes that can be stretched over several days. And hardly ever a sandwich. It's not that I have anything against sandwiches...exactly. But I do have a big thing against soggy bread. Even bread soggy with peanut butter and jelly, or just kind of limp with lunch meat. Blech. If it's not made fresh, I'm probably not interested. It's a hold-over from childhood finickiness.
As a kid, my mom worked around my pickiness by essentially packing me deconstructed sandwiches. Swiss cheese rolled around slices of honey-cured ham and secured with a toothpick. Slices of tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms seasoned with a sprinkling of salt. A couple of mini bagels on the side. But what I find even easier in the morning is opening up my fridge, and scooping out spoonfuls of prepared grain salads into a travel container. Throw it in my bag, grab a piece of fruit, and lunch is done.
On another note, I've made lots and lots of vinaigrettes in my day, but this is the first one I've ever had that features cinnamon and requires a bit of cooking to coax the spices to dissolve. Full of flavor, I could eat this one for days. Oh wait, I have.
Couscous Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette
Adopted from The Bon Appétit Cookbook (the orange one)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/3 cups vegetable broth
10 ounces couscous
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, I used a mixture of apricots and raisins, but the original recipe suggests cranberries
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts chopped (about 5-6 onions)
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
large handful fresh mint, chopped
In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the canola oil, the cinnamon and the cumin until it just boils. Be careful not to burn the spices. Remove from the heat as soon as it bubbles and turns fragrant. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the couscous and the dried fruit. Cover, turn the heat off, and allow the couscous to absorb the liquid, about 10 minutes. Put the couscous in a large bowl and run a fork through it to break up the grains. Set aside to cool as you prep the rest of the recipe.
Whisk the vinegar and the shallot into the cooled oil mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the couscous. Fold in the green onions, the beans and the mint. Serve.