Fiery Israeli Couscous Salad with a Creamy Avocado and Fresh Herb Dressing

Israeli Couscous salad with creamy avocado herb dressing

I have been away the past couple of months because I’ve been writing, writing, writing and then writing some more; this Edward Gorey illustration is an accurate representation of how I’m feeling these days:

edward-gorey

You know what helps when I feel this burnt out? Salads all.the.time. I’m a huge fan of salads that are sturdy, salads that will last a few days in the fridge without becoming mushy or soggy. This salad has a big bite which can be lessened by using roasted sweet peppers instead of roasted serrano peppers – both of which can be found conveniently packed into jars or can be roasted at home in a short amount of time. I’m also obsessed with fresh herbs, I think that fresh basil smells like the greenest, deepest, most intense liquorice heaven ever. Don’t be shy with the lemon juice in the dressing, plenty of lemon is the key to preventing the avocado dressing from turning brown.  Israeli couscous is perfect in this recipe, the dense chewiness is a satisfying foil to the bright zippy flavours of the remaining ingredients. Pearl barley and orzo make excellent substitutes if you can’t find Israeli couscous, I’ve tried it with both and been more than happy with the results.

fiery israeli couscous salad with a creamy avocado and fresh herb dressing:

1 1/2 cups of dried Israeli couscous, cooked in salted water according to package directions

1 medium cucumber, peeled in alternating stripes and cut into thin quarter moons

3 roasted serrano peppers, seeds removed and sliced into rough strips

2 roasted sweet peppers, seeds removed and sliced into rough strips

1 bunch of scallions, greens thinly sliced

Big handfuls of fresh parsley, basil, mint, and cilantro to scatter on top of the salad

1-2 Bird’s Eye chilies, sliced paper-thin to scatter on top of the salad

for the creamy avocado and fresh herb dressing:

1 super ripe avocado

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, loosely chopped

1 cup of fresh basil

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 cup cilantro

A few mint leaves

1/4 cup of Greek yogurt or Skyr

1 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Combine all of the salad ingredients except for the fresh herbs in a large bowl. Pulse together the salad dressing ingredients in a food processor, adjust seasonings if needed. Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad ingredients and toss until coated, transfer the salad to a shallow salad bowl and scatter with the fresh herbs and sliced chilies. Serve this salad at room temperature or while still cold, it will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Music for writing and music for eating while taking breaks from typing tends to be either Nick Drake, Erik Satie, Glenn Gould’s Bach Variations, Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, and Brian Eno. Music For Airports instantly transports me back to early childhood, my mom used to play this album for my sister and I when we had our afternoon naps. Music For Airports is like the smell of rose hips and jasmine, things I associate with my mom’s room when I was growing up, particularly if she had been in there getting ready to go to work or out with friends.

Brian Eno – Music For Airports

 

 

 

Warm Pita Topped with Caramelized Onions and a Fried Egg

Eggs and Caramelized Onions

There’s something to be said about a meal that is inexpensive to make, elegant to look at, and exceptionally easy to eat. This all-in-one recipe is great for nights when you get home from your run after work, sopping wet from the rain and in dire need of a shower and a warm pair of pyjamas. The ingredients are ones that might be lingering in your fridge and pantry even if your grocery shopping trip is a week overdue. Pita can be substituted with store bought naan or even thickly sliced and toasted sourdough bread. Any knob of leftover cheese that’s languishing in your crisper will work in this recipe, I’ve listed a few of my favourites but truly feel free to use anything you like. Fresh basil isn’t a strict requirement, you could omit it all together or you could use fresh parsley, dill, chives, or thyme. Generally you’ll need about one medium sized onion per person so adjust accordingly, changing the number of eggs and pita bread to suit the number of people you’ll be feeding.

warm pita topped with caramelized onions and a fried egg:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

2 medium sized onions, I like to use 1 red onion and 1 yellow sweet onion

5 scallions, whites and greens cut into small pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

A good pinch of kosher salt

150 g of cheese, grated or crumbled (my favourites include old white Cheddar, Gruyere, Asiago Pressato, or Macedonion feta)

2 pita breads

Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

About 6 basil leaves, cut in a thin chiffonade

2 extra large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a heavy skillet melt the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add all of the onions, scallions, garlic, and generous pinch of kosher salt.

2. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the onions, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until a deep, sticky brown colour (this takes upwards of an hour, just reduce the heat further if the onions seem to be cooking too quickly). When the onions are completely cooked scrape them into a bowl and return the still greased skillet back to the heat.

3. Wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil and warm up in the oven for 10 minutes. While the pita gets soft and warm, fry the eggs in the skillet until they’re cooked just the way you like.

4. Layer the pita bread, warm caramelized onions, grated or crumbled cheese, fried egg, and finally the fresh basil and pepper. Take the civilized route and eat with a knife an fork, or fold it onto itself and eat messily as is with your hands.

Brian Eno always sounds like such a skilled escape, a soft implosion into the dreamiest dream place you could ever hope to land in. I need that in my life right now, for my inner life to act as a cushion for all of the things happening around me. Safe and floaty, that’s the name of my brain’s motto right now.

Brian Eno – Deep Blue Day