I created this salad when I realized at 5 on a hot afternoon that I needed to bring something to a potluck at 6. I did not in any way feel like heading to the store first, so I made it from things I found in the house. Luckily, I wrote it all down, because the lemon-mint-parsley-almond-pea-browned onion combination was amazingly good.
By the way, did you know that couscous, and the pearl couscous used here, is actually pasta? So really, this is a delicious pasta salad, capable of standing up to the punishment of time often demanded by the buffet or potluck table. Any leftovers make a very delicious lunch, I can assure you.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- 2 cups pearl couscous
- 1 cup shelled sweet green peas or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (you'll measure out Tbsp. from this total)
- 1 small onion
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste and for the pasta water
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 12 fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 - 1 preserved lemon (optional)
- 1/2 - 1 cup sliced almonds
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make it taste salty like the ocean. Add the couscous and cook until tender to the bite, about 10 minutes. Just before the pasta is cooked, when it has about a minute left, add the peas. Cook another minute and drain well. Drizzle the couscous and peas with about 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and quickly toss to coat.
- Spread the couscous and peas on a large baking sheet to let them all cool.
- Meanwhile, dice the onion. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion browns, 3 to 5 minutes. Note: you are not slow-cooking and caramelizing the onion, you are cooking it over high heat to brown it. Transfer the browned onions to a plate or bowl to let cool.
- In a large salad or mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, and black pepper. Mince the parsley and mint and add to the dressing. Rinse off the flesh from the preserved lemon, if you're using it, mince the rind, and add it to the dressing. Stir to combine everything.
- Add the cooled couscous and peas to the large bowl and toss gently but thoroughly to coat everything with the dressing. Add the browned onions and almonds and toss to combine. Taste. Add additional salt or pepper to taste, if you like.