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Tunisian Couscous Salad
From Matthew Kenney's Mediterranean Cooking (Canada, UK), by Matthew Kenney, Sam Gugino, Paul Franz-Moore.

Even though I call this salad Tunisian, the ingredients could put it in several countries of North Africa. The only thing you have to be concerned about in this dish is overcooking the couscous by pouring on too much boiling water. Otherwise, this salad is very forgiving. It allows you to adjust seasonings and substitute other ingredients almost at will. Chopped grilled vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, and grilled or poached chicken are just a few of the ingredients that cart be added to this salad, which is easily transformed into a main course.

Ingredients:

3 medium red bell peppers
1-1/2 cups instant couscous (10 ounces)
Salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne
1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup Moroccan or other small, black, oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 green onions, white parts and about 3 inches of green parts, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 pound ripe beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

Instructions:

Preheat the broiler. Put the peppers on a sheet pan lined with foil and broil for about 15 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure they blister and blacken evenly. Remove to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool. Peel, seed, and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

Put the couscous in a large mixing bowl. Pour 2-1/4 cups boiling water over the couscous. Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, or until swollen and tender.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

To peel fresh tomatoes, core them and put them in a pot with 2 quarts of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove, cool under running water, and peel. Halve, lengthwise, and gently squeeze to remove the seeds.

Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the cucumber, olives, green onions, garlic, tomatoes, and roasted peppers. Pour the dressing over the couscous and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.

Yield: Serves 4



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