Summer couscous salad:chickpea,almond, pomegranate & feta

by Sasha Wilkins on July 31, 2010 · 15 comments

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Maybe six years ago Bev made a couscous salad for my now goddaughter’  baby shower. I can’t remember any of the other ingredients, but the revelation for me was the inclusion of pomegranate seeds. I’d long had the fear about fruit in salads, not liking sweet & savoury food together (clearly I had been fed too much gammon & pineapple at school dinners), but I gritted my teeth, took a spoonful for politeness, & had a kitchen Damascene moment. Since then I’ve happily messed about with fruit in salads, and  opened my mind a little more.

But I’d forgotten about that especial salad until last weekend when I thought to make a couscous pilaf-y thing for our garden party and suddenly the idea of feta & pomegranate sprang into my thoughts.

I love the contrast of textures and flavours in this dish: there’s the intense, smooth saltiness of the feta, then the crunch and sweet explosion from the pomegranate seeds, the chewy nuts, the earthiness of the chickpeas and and the restrained kick & crispness of the raw scallions. For  a carb-heavy side dish, as above, I go large on the couscous, and just use the additions as a flavouring rather than as a major part.

If I was making this as a main course salad for four or so people, instead of as a party side dish, I would make enough couscous for four, (I’m not going to tell you how as I have a hit & miss record with couscous but follow the instructions on the packet), but would probably still add pretty much the same amount of other ingredients as I list below.

I made the couscous the night before, so that it wouldn’t be too wet when I came to amalgamate all the ingredients – soggy, claggy couscous is grim. A standard pound bag of (wholemeal) couscous made two pretty large bowls (as above), enough to be used as one  type of several side dishes at a large barbecue party.

To the couscous I added:
One tin of drained chickpeas. I set the colander out in the sun to dry them off, but you could just use kitchen paper – again soggy couscous is grim, so open & drain the chickpeas first, and add them last when they are as dry as possible.
One block of feta, finely crumbled. For a main course salad I’d break it into slightly larger chunks.
One pomegranate. Cut it in half and dig out all the seeds, removing every last bit of white pith.
Half a bunch of flat leaf parsley. Chop this up very finely
A bunch of spring onions/scallions. Top and tail, and slice finely – including the greens.
A small packet of flaked almonds. Just dump ‘em in. Upon reflection unsalted pistachios would be great  too.
Lots of Maldon salt. Kosher or other sea salt is good too.
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

At the last minute I drizzled over a little grassy Greek olive oil to bind it together.  Normally I would add some finely sliced red chilis, but there were infants present, so I thought best not.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

desiderata July 31, 2010 at 08:47

I make a variation on this quite regularly. A tip: to get the ‘tinned dogfood’ taste out of the chickpeas, boil them in fresh water for a few minutes with lemon rind.

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admin August 2, 2010 at 15:21

@desiderata I hadn’t heard of doing that before – brilliant, thank you!
@PDF mmmm that sounds gd! Bit like the Leon Superfood Salad..

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Penny Dreadful Vintage July 31, 2010 at 11:08

This sounds delicious, and is going straight on my ‘to cook’ list. Feta also goes well with beetroot or watermelon, the saltiness offsets the sweet nicely.

My favourite summer salad at the moment is bulghur wheat with par-boiled broccoli, fresh peas, avocado and feta, with a lemon dressing. Sometimes also with radish or artichoke or whatever else is hanging about. It is completely delicious, and goes really well with grilled chicken.

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Christina Lindsay July 31, 2010 at 13:03

I love feta and pomegranate together. I make a recipe which is very similar but light on carbs. I omit the chick peas and use quinoa instead of couscous. Hope you’re well xx

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admin August 2, 2010 at 15:20

@christina love quinoa in this too. Bit expensive for fifty people tho. Next time!
@isabelle anne oh I love cooking, so it feels like relaxing to me!

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Top Bird @ Wee Birdy July 31, 2010 at 20:54

Oh fab, another gorgeous substantial salad from LLG. I’ve been pulling out the chickpea/red onion/feta/avocado for months now! xx

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Chic Mama August 1, 2010 at 07:18

Mmmm, this sounds delicious. Definitely going to try it. :)

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snowystylista August 1, 2010 at 10:08

That sounds delicious, I will give it a bash. I love grains in salads. e xx

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Ana August 1, 2010 at 10:20

I absolutely love your recipes and this one sounds like another winner – will try it very soon!

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admin August 2, 2010 at 15:19

@Ana @snowystylista @chic mama @topbird Let me know how it goes! LLGxx

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chocolatecookiesandcandies.blogspot.com August 1, 2010 at 14:46

I’ve tried a similar recipe from Jo Pratt’s cookbook. I’m not usually a fan of pomegranate and especially not in my salad but the saltiness of the feta with the bland couscous balanced the tartness of the fruit.

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admin August 2, 2010 at 15:17

@chocolatecookies I’m with you -= I love the balanced flavours

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notsurebut August 4, 2010 at 05:18

quick tip to get pommy seeds out, cut the whole thing in half and whack heftily with the back of a wooden sppon and presto! a pink jewel shower or a cluster fuck of gook if you forgot have a bowl handy

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admin August 4, 2010 at 10:46

Brilliant! I didn’t know that, thank you!

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