Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beet, Carrot, and Spinach Salad with Couscous and Feta

Couscous Beet Salad

I was tempted to call this 'Science Salad', because it was inspired by one of the science teachers bringing something similar for their lunch last week.  I admit that I'm somewhat of a lunch stalker, always noticing what the people around me are eating and occasional gleaning inspiration from them or out right asking for a recipe.

This salad also reminds me of Anne, a friend of mine (and Science teacher!) who once had a huge garden in her backyard, full of beets and carrots.  I never really liked beets that much until I met Anne, and her enthusiasm made me wonder if they really were better than I thought.  Anne moved away recently and is now without her beloved garden, but I think she would like this recipe.  Look Anne, you have me eating beets too!

A word about the recipe:  beets are nasty suckers to shred and this is best done if you have a food processor with a shredding attachment. In fact, my little food processor made this recipe really quick to make.  You can use a box grater, but it might be a little messy and you'll come out looking like you murdered the beets rather than just shredded some tasty vegetable.  Don't be put off by the ingredients in this-by themselves, they aren't anything special. Pair up sweet beets with salty feta, the tender couscous and tart dressing, and it's really, really, tasty.  If you can't find Israeli couscous, substitute quinoa or regular couscous.  You don't need a lot per person, but enough to pile the veggies on.  I think you could just eyeball it.

Makes 4 servings

2 medium beets, peeled and shredded
3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
2 cups washed and trimmed fresh spinach leaves, torn into bite sized pieces
1/4 red onion, minced
Feta cheese
pistachios, chopped
1 1/2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous (allergy allert: Substitute pearl barley!)

Tahini dressing (recipe below)

In the bottom of a medium sized pot, toast the couscous over medium heat in a bit of oil until golden, which should take about 3-5 minutes.  Make sure to stir so no bits get burned. Pour in 2 cups boiling water, bring the couscous to a boil, then put a lid on, turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 10-12 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Let the couscous cool to room temperature.

To assemble:

Divide the couscous between 4 plates.  Top with spinach, then a handful of each of the shredded carrot and beets.  Sprinkle a bit of red onion, then feta and pistachios over top.  Serve with tahini dressing, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Balsamic Tahini dressing (from Choosing Raw)

1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3/4 cup water

Blend everything together in a food processor!  You can adjust the amount of water depending on if you want it thinner or thicker, in which case it makes a great dip.  I seasoned it up with a little more salt and pepper as well.
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