Couscous salad to the rescue



Uh-oh. You were asked to bring a dish to the cookout. That wouldn't normally be such a bad thing, but you have a cram-packed busy day with no room for cooking. To make matters worse, maybe you aren't much of a cook in the first place.


There's absolutely no need to bring a store-bought side dish from the grocery store that will look oh-so-obviously not homemade. There's also no need to heat up your house and waste your time cooking pasta or potatoes for what will likely be the twelfth version of macaroni or potato salad at the BBQ.


What about Couscous? If you're already familiar with couscous, you don't have to be sold on its quick cooking time or its scrumptious texture that goes with pretty near everything. If you've never cooked it, this is a good time to start.


You can find it at the store with the rice and pasta, or in the ethnic foods section. Buy a bunch; you'll be wanting it again.


The beauty of couscous is its fast cooking time, and you can have a whole pot of it ready in less than five minutes. Once the water boils, you can put the couscous in and turn it off if you want, and it's still ready in just a couple of shakes of a dog's leg.


Quick and Easy Couscous Salad Recipe

6 cups cooked couscous (3 cups before cooking, then prepare per package instructions)

1 large ripe red tomato, chopped

1 cucumber, cut into cubes

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, diced

Juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and mix well. That's it. Keep cool before serving.


Serving Suggestions and Variations on Couscous Salad:


 If you run into closed-minded people who balk at the idea of couscous, tell them it's like Southern cornbread salad. They'll eat it up.

 Couscous salad is even better with about 1/4 cup of Kalamata (Greek) olives added. Put them in if you're BBQ-ing with sophisticated palates, and while you're at it: throw in a handful of chopped mint leaves.

 Vary the veggies and their proportions according to your own taste. Feel free to skip the onions, swap the green peppers for red, or add chickpeas, black beans, or corn. Make it yours.

 Flavored olive oils taste delicious with couscous, as the flavor really comes out in this subtle dish. Try it with sundried tomato-flavored oil or garlic-infused oil.


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