Tiny couscous grains are made from semolina, the same wheat product that is used in making pasta. Like pasta, it is dried, and has a subtle flavor that adapts well to a variety of flavorings and additions, and it is equally good served hot with a sauce or cold in a salad. For this recipe, use a box of plain couscous, without added seasonings. After a brief sojourn in hot water, it is ready to use.
- 2 1/3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if needed
- 1 1/2 cups (one 10 ounce box) dry couscous
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper, or a mixture
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup pitted cherries, quartered or coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted California walnuts, chopped
- Several leaves of butter lettuce or red leaf lettuce
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan of about 4-quart capacity. (A large pan helps the couscous grains to cook without sticking together.) Stir in the couscous, then cover the pan and remove it from heat. Let stand for just 5 minutes.
Scrape the couscous into a large bowl. Add the olive oil, then toss and fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains and coat them with oil. Cool to room temperature.
Add the onion, bell pepper, lemon juice, mint, and ground pepper. Stir and toss with a fork to blend the ingredients and flavorings. Taste, and add more salt if you feel it necessary. Add the cherries and walnuts, then stir and toss to combine.
Place the lettuce leaves around the edge of a serving bowl or platter, then mound the salad in the center.
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