The recipes and photography for this post were provided by local blogger, Sally Roeckell of 365 Barrington.
BBQ season is in full swing and that means delicious summer salads like this Roasted Vegetable Israeli Couscous salad are in the line-up. I have been making some variation of this salad for over 20 years. Today I am making it with Israeli couscous but often I make it with orzo or many other different shapes of Pasta.
It’s an incredibly simple salad with the rich flavors of roasted vegetables, garlic and tangy lemon dressing. It’s a great salad to bring to the picnic or barbecue because there’s nothing in it that will perish if it’s sitting out for too long. As much as we love mayo laden salads, there’s nothing worse than eating one that’s been out in the sun.
We like the salad without any sort of green other than a little additional chopped basil but it can easily be adapted to a green salad by adding in a bit of raw spinach or crisp peppery arugula.
When toasting the pine nuts stay with them as the oils scorch quickly. Shake the pan around every 30 seconds or so to get a nice toast on all sides. Remove the fragrant toasted nuts from the pan onto a plate to cool and set aside.
Note about lemon juice. I have a juice extractor so I juice the whole lemon, skin and all. If you have one I recommend giving it a try. The lemon flavor is intense. If this is not an option fresh lemon juice is still delicious. I do not, however, recommend pre-juiced bottled lemon juice. It’s just not the same.
Roasted Vegetable Israeli Couscous Salad
Ingredients (For the Orzo and Veggies)
- 1/3 C Pine Nuts*
- 1 1/2 C Mushrooms sliced
- 1 C Mix of Red Yellow, or Orange Bell Peppers, deseeded and diced
- 1 lb Asparagus cut into 1″ pieces with woody ends discarded
- 12 oz Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 tsp Garlic minced
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 1/2 sweet onion chopped
- 3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil divided
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper Ground
- 2 C Israeli couscous prepared per package instructions. (substitute prepared orzo if desired)
- 1/2 C Garlic and Herb Feta crumbled
- 1/4 cup Calamata olives
Ingredients (For the Dressing)
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Lemon juiced*
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper ground
For the Garnish
- 1 bunch Fresh Basil Chopped
- Toast the Pine Nuts: In a hot cast iron skillet or frying pan toast pine nuts for 2-3 minutes moving them around the pan until toasty and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- Roast the Veggies: Turn oven to 425°F. Use two sheet pans. Place the mushrooms, bell peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, garlic and onion on one pan. Sprinkle with 2 Tbs of olive oil. Using a spatula, mix all the veggies together with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then stir again. Move 1/2 the veggie mixture to the other sheet pan. Spread the veggies in one layer, making sure there’s no overlapping on both pans. Roast in a 425F oven for 35-40 minutes (due to oven variations, keep an eye on your veggies and start checking your veggies at 25 minutes; a bit of charring is good!). Rotate pans 1/2 way through roasting.
- Make the Dressing: In a small bowl or mason jar add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until all the ingredients are emulsified.
- Putting it all Together: In a large bowl, add the couscous, add the roasted veggies and all their juices, stir in the dressing, add feta, olives and pine nuts. Garnish generously with fresh chopped basil . Serve immediately. If serving later, store in the refrigerator then leave at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.