Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hodgepodge Couscous Salad

Continuing the celebration of Farmers Market Week and the blogathon to raise money for Mass Farmers' Markets put on by Loving Local and In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens here's a tasty treat for this Tuesday:

I don’t know exactly when the whole D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) trend came about, but I must confess that I like it. Love it, actually. I love watching cooking shows, reading cooking magazines, home decorating magazine, and craft magazines. I think it’s because I really like to make things my own. What fun is the world if everything is cookie cutter similar?

Chopped up fresh cucumber was a tasty and refreshing addition
I carry my love of DIY into the kitchen, which as I’ve mentioned before, means that I like to make recipes my own and change them somehow from the pre-set directions. Usually this means adding in a thing or two. Sometimes it means taking out an ingredient I don’t like (or more often it’s removing an ingredient I just don’t have on hand and I don’t feel like buying. Rant alert: I find it incredibly annoying to have a recipe where they tell you to add in a tablespoon of vinegar or a half cup of chicken stock or a quarter of a bell pepper and then I’m left with the rest of that product wondering just how I’ll get through it before it goes bad. Someone should really make a cookbook that incorporates only whole products –- a whole jar, can, veggie, bottle, etc. If one of these cookbooks exists somebody do me a favor and let me know, I would be forever grateful!)

Anywho… where was I? Oh yes, DIY. Aside from salads, I have found my favorite sort of thing to cook up DIY style: couscous salad. And thanks to my farm share, I usually have lots of odds and ends that I never know quite what to do with. I’ve posted earlier about tabbouleh, and this recipe is very similar but I’ve adapted it so that it’s just called “hodgepodge couscous” and is a recipe that is truly all inclusive. Really kids, feel free to get wild.

My favorite things about this recipe:

  • It uses up left veggies from previous recipes
  • It’s a great way to use my share because sometimes I get a solo tomato or just two cucumbers
  • It’s healthy
  • It’s easy to make
  • It tastes good
  • No “cooking” involved, it’s just chop and mix

This is how I usually build my DIY hodgepodge couscous salad:

Step 1: Pick a grain. A box of couscous works, they are about a dollar to two dollars for a box and it’s usually a nice portion size. For my most recent variation I used a bag of Harvest Grains Blend which was a variety of grains including Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. I got it from Trader Joe’s, also inexpensive.

Step 2: Pick some veggies. Tomatoes work well. So do peppers of all varieties. I’ve never tried with an onion, but I bet a sweet one would be good. This time I had some celery and cucumbers grown by Enterprise Farms so I use those, it gave the couscous salad a nice crunch. Chop the veggies up into nice little bits.

Step 3: Pick some herbs. My most recent variation included both flat leaf parsley and a bunch of basil. You could probably use some actual lettuce in here too. If you want to make this more of a Mexican fare I bet that cilantro would work well. I didn’t have scallions on hand this time, but sometime I use those or chives. Chop this up nice fine.

Step 4: Pick some spices/flavorings. Sea salt, pepper, anything you like. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil – it helps break apart the grains but also gives it a nice flavor. If you have fresh lemons on hand lemon juice is a nice accompaniment.

Step 5: Clear out your fridge. Add whatever you want. This time I used a can of garbanzo beans and it worked out great. If you want to get experimental you can divide the whole thing into two batches and try out different ingredients with each.

Step 6: Mix it all together and enjoy! Cheers!


  1. I love it and will try it soon.....

  2. Thanks! What I love so much about this recipe is that there is really no "recipe" at all, it's all about experimentation and trying out new stuff to add! (Which is great for farm shares and farm market goodies)

  3. that sounds tasty! I bet some of the wheatberries I got in one of my shares would go well in that.


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