Published: · Updated: · By: Allison Day · This post may contain affiliate links
A make-ahead, plant-based couscous salad with charred tomatoes, caramelized onions, juicy raisins, bright herbs, and crunchy almonds. It’s layer upon layer of flavour, texture, and color.
New year, new lunch ideas required! One of the goals in our house for 2020 was to keep up our routine of making and enjoying a homemade lunch (I am, naturally, an advocate for the Modern Lunch lifestyle). Last year, the simple act of making lunch saved us a ton of money, made it much easier to eat healthfully on a regular basis, and helped us plan out the rest of our meals and lives a bit better (yes, simple meal planning and prep can do that!). Why lose momentum now?
Kicking off our workday lunches in 2020, a couscous salad adapted from the cookbook Ottolenghi Simple. It’s a very not-boring grain base to add to our lunch bowls, and I’m looking forward to adapting this salad’s formula throughout the year with different grains like quinoa, millet, or farro.
If your lunches are sorted, serve this couscous salad alongside your protein of choice at dinner (think roasted fish, grilled chicken, warm chickpeas, or baked feta) for a crowd-pleasing, nourishing meal.
Couscous, Cherry Tomato, & Herb Salad with Caramelized Onions
Total Time:1 hour 5 minutes
A make-ahead, plant-based grain salad with spiced couscous, charred tomatoes, caramelized onions, juicy raisins, bright herbs, and crunchy almonds. It’s layer upon layer of flavour, texture, and colour. Great for meal prep, as a side for a BBQ meal, or topped with feta for a yummy lunch idea.
1 ½ cups regular or whole wheat couscous 6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided 2 teaspoon garam masala or ras el hanout, divided 1 teaspoon ground cumin Kosher salt and ground black pepper 1 ⅔ cups boiling water ¼ cup raisins 10 oz. cherry tomatoes 2 medium-large onions, sliced into thin half-moons 1 lemon (finely zest to get 1 tsp, then juice to get 2 Tbsp) 1 ½ cups roughly chopped fresh parsley ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
In a large bowl, add the couscous, 2 tablespoons of oil, garam masala or ras el hanout, cumin, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and plenty of black pepper. Mix loosely with a fork and then pour in the boiling water. Mix again, cover the bowl tightly with foil (or a large lid or plate) and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, fluff the couscous with a fork, stir in the raisins, and let cool to room temperature.
Add another 1 tablespoon of oil in a large high-sided skillet or cast iron skillet, and place over high heat. When hot, add the tomatoes and fry for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until they begin to brown in spots and pop. Remove from heat, season with salt, and transfer to a small bowl.
Wipe the tomato-cooking skillet clean, add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and return to medium heat. Add the sliced onions, remaining 1 teaspoon of garam masala or ras el hanout, and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Fry for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
To the cooled couscous mixture, stir in the lemon zest and juice, half of the popped tomatoes, half of the caramelized onions, half of the parsley, half of the almonds. Top salad with remaining half of the parsley, tomatoes, onions, and almonds. Serve room temperature (best) or chilled. Store any leftovers airtight in the refrigerator for a few days.
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi
Replace the couscous with cooked quinoa, farro, or millet for a whole grain twist
The total time for this salad may seem a touch high, but it’s mostly hands-off as the couscous rehydrates—during the rehydrating time, you can cook the tomatoes and onions, which are conveniently ready when the couscous is