Don’t you just love Ted Talks? I don’t know who Ted is. Maybe he’s the guy who started it all. Maybe it’s an acronym: Teaching Eligible Dummies? Topics of Entertainment and Doom? My acronym for it would be MMFS Talks: Making Me Feel Smart Talks. I for one love feeling like I’m stuffing important knowledge into my brain while sitting in my underwear in my family room. Who’s with me?
Ever since watching this Ted Talk by cookbook author/New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, I’ve become convinced of the need to cut back on our family’s meat intake. There are so many reasons for this–(watch the Ted Talk; Bittman put it much more intelligently than I ever could)–perhaps the focus of another blog post another day, but suffice it to say that since the decision to become more or less a “weekday vegetarian,” I’m always looking for solid vegetarian recipes for dinners. Or maybe you’ve noticed, since I have only posted one actual meat dish so far on this blog.
I’ve been making this couscous cakes and salad recipe for awhile now, and it does not disappoint. Hearty and healthy at the same time–my favorite kind of dinner. Actually, the only disappointing thing is that it contains no actual cake. My kids were a little bummed about that (and so was I). Not to worry, though! My birthday is in a couple of days, so I may get around to posting an actual cake recipe very soon.
Couscous Cakes with Feta and Sundried Tomato Salad
(Heavily adapted from Finecooking.com)
For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sour cream
1 tsp. finely chopped mint
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
For the couscous cakes:
1 1/2 c. dry couscous
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
Zest of 2 lemons
For the salad:
8 oz. fresh spinach
1/2 c. feta cheese
1/2 c. sundried tomatoes
Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, sour cream, and mint. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Prepare the couscous cakes (can be done several hours in advance): Prepare couscous according to package directions. (If there are no directions, you can always remember that couscous has a 1:1 ratio with water. In a microwave-safe dish, pour 1 1/2 c. water over 1 1/2 c. couscous with a sprinkle of salt and microwave for 3 1/2 minutes. Fluff with a fork.) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mash garbanzo beans until pasty. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt, minced garlic, dried parsley, eggs, and lemon zest. Mix in cooled couscous until thoroughly combined.
Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 c. measuring cup, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture. (At this point, the cakes can be covered and refrigerated for later cooking.)
Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 5 couscous cakes to the skillet and flatten with a spatula until they’re about 3/4 inch thick. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and cover. Repeat the process until all cakes are cooked.
Assemble the salad: On individual plates, distribute spinach, feta, and sun dried tomatoes. Top each salad with couscous cakes, and serve with dressing.
Makes approximately 15 couscous cakes, or 5 servings.