Couscous Salad with Kale, Harissa and Roasted Vegetables

Coucous Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Harissa

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.

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Lentil Salad with Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Lentil Salad with Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette This dish was inspired by my friend, Jane’s trick of puréeing sun-dried tomatoes with oil and vinegar for a bold, flavor-packed dressing that livens up simple lentils.  Even those Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrettewho dislike the chewy texture of the dried fruit will love this zippy salad.  Vary the vegetables as you like.  Add chopped celery, fennel or radishes, or a handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or dill.  Omit the feta for a vegan option.  Use brown or green lentils that remain whole with cooking, such as Spanish Pardina lentils or French lentilles Du Puy.

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English Peas Sautéed with Lettuce and Green Onions

English Peas Sauteed with Lettuce

This French-inspired recipe is loose and forgiving in proportion and spirit.  Add more peas if you like, or less.  You might spruce it up with a dollop of creme fraiche just before serving or add a splash of white wine instead of stock while cooking.  A small handful of chopped herbs such as chives, basil or mint would be nice as well.

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Mini Pumpkins: beyond jack-o-lantern

Pumpkins and October. What more needs to be said? Except that pumpkins offer more than just the usual Halloween fun. You can certainly scoop out the seeds and carve a jack-o-latern, but how about stuffing one instead? Or roast thick slices and toss into a green salad. Sauté the orange cubes with onions, or a few spices, add vegetable stock and purée the lot—velvety soup is on the way. And who can resist the fiery hue? Plus fall’s most beloved squash is packed with healthy nutrients like alpha and beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Pumpkin has something for everyone to love—from Dr. Mom to the candy-coveting, trick-or-treater in the house.

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