Watermelon Couscous Salad
The original recipe for this Watermelon Couscous Salad was given to my by my sister, who got it from the recipe section of Detroit Free Press article about Israeli Couscous.
She said she prepared it several times this summer for potlucks and picnics, and got rave reviews, many requests for the recipe, and no leftovers.
Since watermelon is one of my favorite fruits to eat just plain, I’ve been trying other ways of using it this summer. The Watermelon Salsa I made was tasty and well liked by my guests, so I was anxious to try this Watermelon Couscous Salad.
But where to find Israeli Couscous in my little town in Central Illinois? Amazon of course! Israeli Couscous was delivered quickly to my door. Thank you, Amazon Prime.
I really should have read the on line description a little closer, though, as I’m now the proud owner of this HUGE bag of couscous. Yes, this “Value Pack” was a bargain, and I never pass up those ($7.25) but 5 pounds? That’s 10 cups’ worth folks! And I only needed 1 cup for the recipe.
So, I shared some with my sis this past weekend, 3 cups’ worth, and gave 1 cup of couscous to my daughter hoping she’ll use it. As for the rest? I will continue on my quest to find lots and lots of recipes to experiment with.
Pasta vs Grain…so what is couscous exactly?
I never really gave it much thought as I was certain it was in the grain family like barley or quinoa. Turns out I was wrong (Yes, family and friends, I admit it. I’ll even put it in writing if you want) It’s actually a pasta, and it comes in a couple of different sizes–itty bitty couscous that looks like rice or the larger pearl-like Israeli couscous.
Preparing the Watermelon Couscous Salad
The first thing I did was cut up the watermelon into a small dice. I then put the diced watermelon in a colander, which I placed a large bowl. This process allows some of the water to drain out of the watermelon. A sprinkling of a little bit of salt on top, about 1/2 teaspoon, helps to draw out even more water. Letting the watermelon drain over a large bowl while preparing the rest of the salad gets rid of a lot of the water, preventing the salad from getting too mushy.
The couscous that I prepared for the Watermelon Couscous Salad turned out great. I followed the suggestions in the recipe and started browning the couscous. It took about 4 minutes for the browning to complete. I stirred the pan frequently as I feared it would burn quickly. No problem there as the couscous turned out great. It was a beautiful shade of brown, with a pleasant nutty aroma.
I then added water to the browned couscous and cooked it for about 10 minutes. I then tasted a few for doneness. They still had a little bit too much “bite” to them, so I continued to cook them for another 3 minutes. The recipe indicated 15 minutes of cooking time, but I found that to be too long. My suggestion is to do as I did–start tasting at around 10 minutes. The couscous should have a little bit of a bite, al dente, just like all the other types of pasta.
After adding arugula for the right amount of pepperiness and feta cheese for the right amount of salty flavor, I felt the finished salad still lacked a little flavor. The red onion I put in my Watermelon Salsa recipe tasted great so I decided to add it here. The red onion added just the right amount of flavor I was looking for.
About the nutritional value?
Watermelon is high in vitamin C and amino acids that boots immunity to help prevent cardiovascular disease and maybe even cancer. The high level of potassium and magnesium in watermelon helps lower blood pressure along with cardiovascular and stroke risk. The high lycopene level helps prevent prostate cancer and lowers the risk for kidney stones. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory to aid with muscle aches and pains. Did I mention natural diuretic? It’s that, too.
Watermelon Couscous Salad
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups diced watermelon
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
- 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 cup arugula chopped
- 1/4 cup white wine rice or sherry vinegar
HEAT 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, ADD the couscous and STIR until the couscous begins to turn brown color and smell toasty, about 4 minutes.
ADD 2 cups water and salt and bring to a BOIL. REDUCE heat, COVER and SIMMER 10-15 minutes or until the couscous is tender. DRAIN any remaining liquid from the pan.
SPREAD couscous evenly on a baking sheet. DRIZZLE 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over the coucous and STIR to combine. COVER with plastic wrap and PLACE in the fridge to COOL.
CHOP watermelon into a small dice. DRAIN the watermelon while you cook the couscous and prep the other ingredients to get rid of excess liquid.
To make the salad: In a large bowl, COMBINE the cooked and cooled couscous, drained watermelon cubes, onion, cheese, basil and arugula.
In a separate small bowl, COMBINE the remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil and vinegar. POUR dressing over salad. TOSS to coat thoroughly.