Even the empty plate was beautiful with this salad. You’re looking at fresh beet greens and the last few grains of Israeli couscous that have been stained a brilliant fuchsia by roasted beets. Don’t they look like little berries?
I really like the texture of the large pearls of Israeli style couscous, but you can use regular couscous as well. Either way they will take on the pretty color from the roasted beets. I add the beets and the lemony vinaigrette while the beets are still warm, and the transformation is almost instantaneous.
This will definitely be a conversation starter at your next gathering. I found the recipe on a Polish blog, and this salad is an interesting fusion of Polish and Middle Eastern elements. While Google translate is notoriously imperfect, it was good enough to get me through this simple recipe.
This is a easy, healthy recipe with a big wow factor.
- 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (you can use regular couscous)
- 2 medium beets, roasted (see instructions in the note below)
- handful of parsley leaves, chopped
- a handful of fresh dill fronds, chopped
- a handful of good walnuts, roughly chopped
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp za'atar (see recipe below)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- Chop the beets into a small dice while they are still warm. Toss with the couscous, breaking up any lumps with a fork.
- Toss with the herbs and nuts.
- Mix the za’atar with the olive oil and lemon juice, and add to the salad. Toss well. Refrigerate for at least an hour or two to allow it to get completely chilled, and for the flavors to mingle. Check the seasonings and serve garnished with a few more nuts and herbs.
To roast the beets, wash them and put them on a dry baking sheet. Roast in a 400F oven until a sharp knife pierces them easily. This might take an hour and a half, or so. When they are cool enough to handle, slip their skins off. Use a serrated vegetable peeler, if necessary.
Za’atar is a common Middle Eastern herb, related to oregano and thyme. It’s also the name of spice mix made with dried herbs, crushed sesame seeds, and sumac, a dried berry with a tangy, sour flavor. Za’atar can be hard to find in the US, but you can make your own. I used this blend:
4 tsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
4 tsp dried marjoram
4 tsp ground sumac
1 tsp sea salt
4 tsp ground cumin
- Crush everything lightly with a mortar and pestle.