Mom used to make a super simple but delicious curried rice recipe that baked in the oven seemingly forever, tantalizing us with the delicious warm smell of curry, but it was worth the wait. It came out creamy and mild, studded with red and green bell peppers and buttery-soft onions. When I left home and began cooking for myself, it was my go-to dish, humble-looking, but sure to impress after the first bite. And the recipe made tons so I ate on the leftovers for days.
I haven’t made that rice dish in years, but when I ran across a curried couscous recipe from Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family, by Ken Haedrich, it immediately reminded me of those long ago days. I reduced the oil, mixed up the vegetables, used dried cherries instead of currants and totally ditched the dressing. This doesn’t cook forever in the oven (it spends no time at all in the oven) – in fact, you can have it on the table within a half hour or so. But that warm curry essence is in there. The veggies here are just a suggestion, of course. Use what you love. Once again I must thank Bar at The Veg Bar for sharing her wonderful oil-free dressing. Instead of basil, I used parsley this time around – and it’s just as fabulous.
Curried Couscous & Vegetable Salad
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. mild curry powder
1 cup whole wheat couscous
~ 2 cups water
1/3 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
2 tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
(adapted from The Veg Bar’s Oil-Free Lemon Basil Dressing)
3 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 tbsp. water
2 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh parsley
juice of half a lemon
zest of half a lemon
1 tbsp. chia seeds
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
Make the dressing:
Put all of the ingredients into a blender and process until nice and smooth. Set aside.
Make the couscous:
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and stir in the curry powder. Cook for about 30 seconds and then stir in the couscous, coating it with the olive oil-curry powder mixture. Slowly pour in the water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and let cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the couscous absorb the liquid. It’ll be kind of a nice, thick saucy mixture. This is good. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cherries, onion, zucchini, bell pepper, parsley, mint and tomatoes. Add a dash of salt and pepper. When the couscous is mostly cool, add it to the vegetables. Stir in the salad dressing. Serve at room temperature.