Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crunchy Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing

Tahini is fairly new for me.  As a hummus lover, I suppose I've always loved the taste of tahini.  If you are not familiar with tahini, it's a thick paste made from ground up sesame seeds and is common in Middle Eastern dishes.  It has a unique nutty flavor all it's own.  It has become a regular in my fridge.  I'll often spread tahini over toast for breakfast or an apple as a snack in place of peanut butter. I first experienced a tahini dressing in a falafel sandwich.  I wanted to create my own version of a tahini dressing and this salad is the perfect way to showcase it.  Whenever I create salads, I think about color and texture.  Layered with apple, carrot, cucumber, and topped with pine nuts, this salad has a great crunch factor and works well with the nutty components of the dressing.  It's colorful, light, and packs well for lunch.  Better yet, give the potato salad a break and bring this dish to your next cookout for something fresh and new.

~Crunchy Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing Recipe~

1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cup water
1 medium red apple, cored and diced
1 carrot, shaved into ribbons
1 cucumber, diced
small handful parsley, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 scant cup lemon juice
1 tbsp honey

Bring water up to a boil in a saucepan.  Add in the couscous, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Remove cover and fluff with a fork.  Let the couscous cool while you prep the other ingredients.  I start by making the dressing.  In a small bowl, whisk the tahini together with water to thin out the consistency.  Add in lemon juice, honey, and olive oil, continuing to whisk together.  Set the dressing aside.

Core and dice one red apple.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot into little ribbons.  Dice cucumber and parsley.  

Over medium low heat, toast the pine nuts until they start to brown.  Keep your eye on these because the process is quick and you don't want them to burn.  

Be sure your couscous has cooled completely before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Once cooled, combine the couscous, apple, carrot, cucumber, and parsley in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss all the ingredients together.  I find your hands are your best tools for this kind of mixing.  Finish the salad by topping with the toasted pine nuts.  Serves 4-6.

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