Italian Couscous Salad

I purchased a cookbook for this month called “The Italian Farmer’s Table“, the recipes use fresh ingredients from different working farms in Northern Italy. This recipe for a couscous salad comes from La Miniera, in the Piemonte region of Italy. The farm and guesthouse is run by a Jewish couple, who bring a Middle Eastern influence to Italian cooking. This recipe is a good example of how tasty that combination can be!  I adjusted the spices slightly to my taste (a little less cinnamon and a little more coriander) so feel free to do the same. Couscous is a great ingredient to use in the summer, because it involves very little time over a hot stove.

Couscous con Verdure
Olive oil
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 3/4 c. water
8 oz. uncooked couscous
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 regular (or 1 small) eggplant
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
6 oz. cherry tomatoes, or grape tomatoes cut in half
1 c. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat about 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over low heat in a small nonstick skillet. Add the spices and saute until they are fragrant and start to bubble. Pour the spice mixture with the water into a small saucepan with a lid. Bring the seasoned water to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in couscous. Immediately cover with the lid and let sit until vegetables are ready.

Peel the eggplant and chop to a small dice. Heat about 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a larger non-stick skillet. Saute the onion and eggplant for a few minutes, until the eggplant starts to get golden brown and starting to get crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil.  In the same pan with another 1 Tbsp. olive oil, saute the zucchini until golden brown. Drain the zucchini over paper towels as well.

Remove the cooked and spiced couscous from the saucepan into a large bowl by fluffing with a fork (this prevents lumps).  Add tomatoes, chickpeas, eggplant, onion and zucchini.  Mix well. Drizzle with lemon juice and fresh herbs and mix again.  There should be enough oil left in the veggies from the cooking, but if the salad seems dry, you can add another Tablespoon of olive oil.  Serve at room temperature.

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