Chris' Recipes

Bon Appetite!

Chopped Salad with Green Goddess Salad Dressing

Written By: Chris - Oct• 23•13

Bill was the inspiration to create this salad after we had eaten something similar recently while dining out at a great wine bar.  I was on a mission to find Israeli couscous, because it isn’t readily available in any of the markets near our home.  Fortunately, I was able to find it at Trader Joe’s not too far from home.

Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, or Ptitim is an Israeli toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls.  It is similar to regular couscous in that it’s a small, whole grain-like food made from semolina or wheat flour.   Outside of Israel, it is known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous.  While considered a children’s food in Israel, elsewhere in the world, it is treated as an ingredient for “trendy delicacies”.  This made sense to me when I read it because the first time we had ever eaten it, was while attending a wine dinner in Napa.  The chefs on the west coast always seem to be the first to serve unique or trendy ingredients within dishes that later make their way across country to other contemporary restaurants.  Usually these same ingredients can be found in gourmet markets or deli’s.

Because of its size, Israeli couscous has a slightly chewy texture similar to barley, and because it’s toasted, it has a slightly nutty flavor.  Like regular couscous and other whole grains, Israeli couscous is pretty bland on it’s own and needs to be prepared with seasonings, spices, sauces or fresh herbs.  Bill and I like it’s texture; it is chewy and is much smaller than its closest pasta relative.  Although I topped this particular salad with a drizzle of the dressing, I recommend mixing it into the greens for a more even distribution of it’s flavors.

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Ingredients:

Romaine lettuce
Red Grapes, halved
Cucumber, julienned
Israeli Couscous, cooked
Parmesan Cheese, shaved
Marcona almonds*

I created a “Green Godess” salad dressing for the salad:
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Cup Sour Cream, light
1/2 Lemon, juice and rind
1/2 Lime, juice and rind
1/2 Cup Chives, chopped fine
1/2 Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons Parsley, dry
2 Garlic Cloves, pressed
1 Tablespoon Tarragon, dry
3 Tablespoons Tarragon Vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Thyme, fresh
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce (because I didn’t have any anchovies!)

Marcona almonds are a special product of Spain.  they make a fantastic addition to salads.  These almonds are more rounded and plump than the California varieties we’re used to. They also seem to have a softer and somewhat “wet” texture, similar to macadamia nuts.   The marcona almonds we’ve tried have a sweeter, more delicate taste

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Prepare the couscous according to package directions and set aside to cool.

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Chop the lettuce and julienne the cucumbers before combining with a light coating of the dressing.  (Less is best because you can always add more if you would like) The crunch of the crispy romaine, cucumber, and almonds are wonderful with the chewy couscous.  I love the sweet grapes with the richness of the shaved parmesan, against the tart goddess vinaigrette.

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Top the salad with the chilled couscous, grapes and shavings of a good quality parmesan cheese.  

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We enjoyed this salad along side of a grilled pork chop that had been drizzled with Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce.  This is a rich, thick golden-hued, mustard-based sauce that is sweet and smoky with a hint of molasses.  It paired just the right with a perfect blend of spices.  Bill chose a  Napa Valley Cab to sip on!

Enjoy!

Cheers!
~Chris

 

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