Last week I mentioned that Carver had a moment of genius in suggesting lunches. One was turkey sandwiches, the other was a couscous salad. Back when we lived in Boston and I worked for Beth Israel, I had an office (read: gray cubicle) near this great diner called Zaftigs. I went there with some awesome coworkers for a farewell lunch and found something special. A couscous salad with cranberries, nuts, goat cheese and chicken on a bed of greens. That salad provided me endless inspiration. I decided to make the original this week. The vinaigrette makes this dish, it’s orange-mint. Clean, fresh and intensely flavorful.
I cook up one cup of whole wheat couscous in 1.25 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. After the couscous is cooked I let it cool slightly. In a large bowl I put 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, the zest of 1 orange, and 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese. I pour the warm (but cooled) couscous over top so some of the goat cheese melts. I put this in the fridge until I am ready to assemble lunches. In the morning (or evening if I’m on my game) I fill a togo dish with greens and top with 1 cup couscous mix. Then I add 2-3 ounces grilled chicken breast. Separately I mix the vinaigrette (we have found that if you dress the salad too long before eating the mix ends up dry) and store until I am ready to eat/serve. The vinaigrette is simple: the juice of one orange, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves, 2 tablespoons good olive oil. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and taste for any necessary changes- salt, pepper, etc.
This dish is colorful, balanced, nutritious and far from boring. If you really want to pile up the nutrients serve with spinach. Combining the spinach and citrus will unlock more nutrients in the greens.