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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Couscous Salad with Cilantro Pesto and Spring Vegetables

Couscous Salad with Spring Peas and Cilantro Pesto

Fresh cilantro pesto brightens up this easy pasta salad.  Vary the vegetables as you like or substitute toasted walnuts for the pepitas.  Spring asparagus or pea shoots would be a nice addition.  Look for Israeli couscous at high-end and specialty markets such as Whole Foods or Gene’s in Saratoga.  In a pinch substitute jarred pesto for the fresh.  You may not find ready-made cilantro pesto, and if not, basil pesto will do.  Add as much as you need to moisten the salad and give it plenty of flavor.

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Stir-fried Cabbage with Cashews

Stir-fried cabbage with cashews

This easy stir-fry works with any sort of cabbage.  Bok choy, brussel sprouts or broccoli would be perfect alternatives.  If you like, make an extra batch of sauce as a marinade for firm tofu cubes.  Marinate the tofu for 15 minutes or so, then stir-fry the cubes (discarding the marinade) in hot oil before you cook the vegetables—until they turn golden-brown and slightly crunchy on the outside.  Set the tofu aside while you cook the veggies, then add it back in with the nuts and peas.  Serve over rice or cooked spaghetti noodles or by itself as a side dish.

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Spiced Peas and Spinach with Coconut

Indian spiced peas with coconut

Whole spices and coconut toasted in the pan evoke Indian flavors, though this dish works well with all sorts of menus.   Black mustard seeds are a staple of Southern Indian cuisine.  They’re stocked at most grocery stores, but head to an Indian market where you’ll find them inexpensively priced, in bulk, along with all sorts of other goodies like lentils and tea.

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