Friday, August 19, 2011
I'm leaving for Paris soon. As in, less than two weeks soon. And I'm staying there for 12 full months, or one complete year. However you want to think of it. Which means I'm going to be missing autumn in NYC. And it's kind of crap, because I suffered through that hellish winter and the almost equally hellish heatwave of July, only to get booted off The Island by September 1st. And there is nothing like autumn in New York. It's the title of a cheesy rom-com that I've actually never seen, after all.
But whereas the heat wave usually comes at the end of August, at least it's been that way for the last few years, it's starting to feel surprisingly like fall already. So this recipe, although created just the other day, is a bit out of its element. For one thing, I should absolutely not be buying cherries anymore. It's far too late in the summer. And when the checkout person at Gourmet Garage holds them aside after scanning to ask if I still want them once the price has been revealed, well, it's time to kick the habit.
So I vowed that these would be the last. Which means that I had to do something great. This recipe was born, then, from the final haul of cherries and from my need to eat lunch. Not dessert, lunch. I had one yellow onion in the fridge, but somehow it seemed too assertive, so I ran out to the corner Latin market and picked up what look to be overgrown green onions. They taste like overgrown green onions, too. So I guess that's what we'll call them. Someone might know better exactly what type they are from the photo, so if you do, please let me know.
But otherwise it's a simple and straightforward little concoction with a few surprises. Fresh cherries in couscous, for one. And a light dressing made of yogurt, honey and nutmeg for another. The original inspiration for that came from a green bean salad originally published in the New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, but which I never managed to actually locate. So this yogurt dressing is what I think it might have been.
It's also the kind of dish you should probably get used to seeing around here, because although I have some posts saved up to buy me some time once I get to Paris, I'll be leaving most of the fancy cooking behind in New York as I don't think my 160 square foot Parisian pied-à-terre is going to be coming equipped with a full betterie de cuisine. (Like how I'm practicing my French already?) But, you know, it will be Paris. I'll survive.
Cherry and Couscous Salad with Honey Nutmeg Dressing
From the Cooking Books Kitchen
1 cup couscous, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large green onions, or 4 of the normal size, white and light green parts sliced
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons fresh minced mint, plus more for garnish
Cook the couscous according to package directions. That usually involves bringing one cup of water to a boil, adding the couscous, covering, turning the heat off and letting it sit for about 4 minutes to soak up the water. Remove the cover of your pot and fluff the couscous with a fork. Set aside.
While your couscous is cooking you can make the dressing. Simply whisk together the yogurt, honey and nutmeg. Done.
Heat a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat and add the almond slivers. Toast until lightly browned and fragrant, but keep an eye on them because they can burn quickly. You can just throw the almonds straight into the couscous and use the same pan again for the green onions. Return the pan to medium heat and add a little oil. Sauté the onions until soft but not quite browned. Add those to the couscous, then toss in the halved and pitted cherries. Add two tablespoons of the fresh mint and the dressing and toss to combine. Serve with an extra sprinkling of mint over the top.