Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Salad days

Not that you can necessarily tell from the weather but it is currently the middle of summer here, and summer generally means salad.

Now I am not going to say that at my age I am still blaming my mother for the fact that I don't eat a lot of salad, but I do think that eating her idea of a salad is why salad really isn't my favourite type of food. I will eat it, and I do make a better salad than she ever did, but still, give me a menu and ask me to choose between hot vegies and salad and it will be hot vegies every time (not that she cooked those well either, but still).

Growing up, if we were having salad for dinner, what that meant was that you got some iceberg lettuce (never any other variety) and bunged the leaves down on a plate just like that, then a couple of slices of tomato and maybe some cucumber, a couple of pieces of beetroot and then a slice of processed cheese slices (never real cheese) and voila, you have a salad.


Lately I have been thinking about trying out some new salad ideas, maybe some salads that incorporated warm meat or something like that, but so far I haven't had anything jump out and say try me!

This week I decided that rather than just thinking about it, I needed to just try something new. I knew that when we ate it, we would be having it with Moroccan spiced lamb, so a couscous salad seemed to be the logical step, so this is the recipe that we tried this week. I have to say, we liked it a lot!

I know which one I think looks more appetising!

Couscous Salad
  • 200g couscous
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 yellow capsicum, seeds removed, diced (known as peppers in some places)
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs hummus (optional)


  1. Place the couscous in a large bowl. Place the stock and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan, bring to just boiling point, then pour over the couscous. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Fluff couscous with a fork and season with salt and pepper. When couscous is completely cold, stir in the cucumber, onion, capsicum, tomato and parsley.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice and hummus, add to the couscous and stir until well combined

*Recipe and image from

Like I mentioned before, I do want to find some new salad ideas but I am finding all my usual sources for recipes a bit overwhelming in terms of the number of recipes to look at, so I am putting the call out to all my fellow Weekend Cookers. Do you have a salad that your family loves to eat, whether it be an accompaniment or one of those salads that is a full meal in itself? In theory, I am trying to be good again, so healthy would be good too.

A couple of small provisos - my oven has broken so can't require oven cooking, and secondly we have a nut allergy in my house, so nothing that relies on nuts

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


  1. I have a salad recipe that is delicious if you like strong flavors--and it can definitely be a meal on it's own!

    Greek Panzanella (via the Barefoot Contessa)

  2. I do one salad - a chicken & bacon Caesar salad and Rob loves it. And this is a man who thinks lettuce is the biggest waste of space on earth! We eat it for lunch in summer and although I cheat and use a dressing out of a bottle, it's the nicest Caesar salad dressing I've ever tasted!

    Apart from that, I'm not a big salad fan. I don't like cucumber or tomato so most garden salads are out for me and I don't like olives or feta so Greek salads are no go too! I do like pasta salads and potato salads but they're kind of just cheating really!

  3. What dressing do you use? I have a warm potato salad with bacon that the boy just loves, but not sure it the personal trainer would be happy with me having too much of that one!

    Beth, that sounds good! Will add it to my list of recipes to try.

  4. Wow, thanks for sharing this story (I guess we all sort of have a love/hate relationship with our mom's cooking ;) My mom can't cook w/o meat or meat replacement and everything has to be covered in sauce or at least stir-fried in a little oil x__X)
    Couscous salad is indeed very tasty, brave you to step over your initial dislike of salads! Adding fruit & other kinds of lettuce is perhaps also a good idea?

  5. When I make salad I use different types of salad leaves, but it's all becoming a bit same same these days.

    I have so many mother stories when it comes to food! One day I will try and write about chicken ping! Every time I tell someone that story they are endlessly entertained!

  6. I try to bring pasta and grain salads to work, but inspiration does run out here as well... maybe we should all post more (esp. with spring/summer in sight)? *writing this idea down for another Weekend Cooking post*

    "Chicken ping"?? Now I'm really getting curious. Yes, pleeeaaase post about it in the future :)

  7. I use Cardini's - it's definitely the best I think. I used to use it as margarine for sandwiches whenever I'd have chicken or even ham sandwiches or rolls.

    I'm not sure your PT would advise that though, either!

  8. That couscous salad looks wonderful! Yummmmm.

    I love salads and make them almost every day. Besides a tossed salad, I make potato salads (white and sweet/yams), bean salads, grain salads, yogurt-type Indian salads, Asian noodle salads ....

    Naturally I'm drawing blanks for actual recipes at this second. I'll be back later with a recipe. Anything in particular you'd like?

  9. The top one! The top one looks more appetizing! I don't have a favorite salad, but the one I make the most is a bunch of lettuce and/or spinach leaves with tomatoes, cranberries, and goat cheese, tossed with a homemade vinaigrette and lots of black pepper.

  10. My mother used to make the most wonderful warm potato and bacon salad, but these days it's a recipe best left forgotten.

    I did stumble on an easy to make/store salad for taking to work when trying to make my own stir fry veggies. Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy, broccoli (sp?), chopped celery, radishes, , english cucumber, snow peas or anything else similar you want to throw in plus black beans or soy beans if you want.

    Napa cabbage doesn't taste like cabbage at all and much tastier than plain iceberg or even romaine. Stays fresher longer after chopped up as well.Dress anyway you like.

    I have a recipe for a radish/cucumber salad I found on the web I've been wanting to try soon.

  11. I think your mother and mine came from the same mold. I had to laugh when I saw the picture of the first salad. That's what my mom also served, minus the cheese.

    Now I love salads of all kinds and especially the ones with meat in it. Mexican food is a favorite so I like Taco Salad (ground beef) and a Fajjita Salad with grilled chicken strips or grilled shrimp.

  12. I do love a good salad! I'm the only one who likes couscous in this house. I should try that.

  13. I am salad challenged. In fact, I use the term "a Sara Salad" after my much more culinary SIL to mean "a salad with more than one ingredient." So I start with leaves -- not iceberg, but either Romaine or a bag-o-salad, and then if we are lucky I add something before serving it up.

    Things to add: onion, pepper, cuke, cheese (feta or gorgonzola or mozzerella), tomato if available, bacon, mint, etc. Or fruit -- spinach and pear, or apples, or kiwi. Then I put dressings on the table, usually store bought but I'll mix up simple oil & vinigar things.

  14. I just ate a salad...with spinach and lettuce and onion and peppers and olives and some beans and a bit of feta and some chicken.

    But I also love couscous and make a salad very similar to your recipe. good hot...good cold.

  15. I am the same Marg, would choose the veg over salad option most times! I love couscous too!
    However I could eat Fattoush as a meal on its on!
    You can sprinkle pomergranete seeds on it too to give it some "bling" too.

    I also love Morroccan Carrot Salad. I make it with the thermomix, but I think any food processor would do the trick.
    This is also really yummy on wraps with leftover chicken.

  16. Oh my gosh, my partner and I had the same issue with our mothers' salads! The sad part is that when I was young I refused to eat the salad that my mom made from the buttercrunch lettuce in her garden - she would eat and enjoy while I got the iceberg. I don't know why and I still absolutely kick myself for that!

    We do a great cold salad around here that I adapted from a deli in my previous city, Portland. They called it a "Willamette Valley salad" - a good mix of lettuces of any variety topped with a chopped up apple, grapes, blue cheese, and hazelnuts (which can be left out due to your allergies!) It's nice topped with a light vinaigrette or just on its own.

    Good luck!

  17. Marg this is a great post. Your couscous salad looks so appetizing.

    I love experimenting with different ingredients in my salads = the more the better.

  18. So funny how many people think salad is synonymous with iceberg lettuce and Ranch dressing ;) We mix up the leaves...our favorites are Romaine and Spinach with produce and fruits, sometimes depending on what is most available and sometimes what goes best with the particular meal we're eating. I also create a grilled chicken salad in the summertime but that would be difficult without cooking the chicken. I think just go with all the different tastes you like and play around with the combinations :)

  19. It looks lovely! I do a warm chicken salad and thanks to your prompt I've put it on my blog.

  20. Well yes, that second salad does indeed look and sound much better :p But I have to say that first salad is better than what we had as kids..ours was usually just iceberg lettuce with cheap store bought crappy dressing on top :p

  21. Dressing? Luxury! (said in my best northern English accent) ;-)

  22. this is almost identical to the couscous recipe I make except that mine has some salted sunflower seeds in it. Great choice to start your salad remake with.



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