This salad was inspired by my friend Jane and her sneaky tub of pepper-spiked harissa that made the journey all the way from DC to California without too much leakage.
Harissa is a paste made of chili peppers ground with spices, oil and garlic, that’s a wildly popular condiment in North Africa. Here it adds flavor plus a touch of heat to an easy dinner salad. In summer we’ll turn to sweet, juicy raw tomatoes, but in early spring roasted cherry or grape tomatoes are the way to go.
You’ll find harissa and Israeli couscous at Whole Foods or other specialty markets. Harissa varies in strength from one version to another, so be sure to taste and add as much as you dare.
- Olive oil
- 1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 2 teaspoons to 4 teaspoons harissa
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place peppers and onion on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with a bit of olive oil to lightly coat. Place tomatoes on a separate baking sheet and toss with oil to coat. Season vegetables with a bit of salt. Place in the oven and roast until tender (25-30 minutes), turning vegetables with a spatula once or twice during cooking. Cool slightly.
- Warm 1 to 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous and toast grains for 2 or so minutes until they begin to lightly brown. Add 2 1/4 cups water and stir. Bring couscous and water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until couscous is tender and water is absorbed (about 12 to 15 minutes). Place into a large serving bowl to cool and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Mix harissa (start with smallest amount first if you tend to enjoy less spicy foods, add more if you like a hotter mix) with lemon juice and 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add to bowl with cooled couscous and mix together. Taste and add more harissa if you like, folding gently to thoroughly combine.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale and lightly sauté for 3-5 minutes until leaves are bright green and just tender. Add to bowl with couscous and fold with roasted vegetables. Taste for salt and add more as needed.