I created this recipe because I wanted to stock the fridge with make-ahead foods for a busy work week. The hardest part of this recipe was coming up with a name. Somehow “Chickpea and Grilled Veggie Salad with Zatar Vinaigrette and Israeli Couscous” sounds not only long but also pretentious. And you can use sautéed or grilled veggies or orzo instead of Israeli couscous and I really don’t want to scare anyone from making this recipe. Because this is really just a pasta salad with loads of veggies and a delicious dressing. Just a bit fancier. So I simplified a bit and it became Zucchini and Couscous Salad with Zatar Vinaigrette, but seriously, this salad is packed with tastiness!
Not familiar with zatar? This Middle Eastern spice blend is loaded with thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and occasionally other ingredients. I’ve seen it spelled Za’atar or Zaatar, in case you see these options in your local store. Sure, you can buy a small jar from your favorite spice shop, but I can buy inexpensive 6 oz bags at my local well-stocked grocery store. (Chicagoans – Think Tony’s, Fresh Farms and Pete’s.) It sounds exotic, but these are all familiar flavors mixed together in an unfamiliar way. Of course you can always try mixing your own and the blend from Bon Appetit sounds fantastic.
I really encourage you to try Israeli couscous just because it has a delicious nutty flavor and a chewiness that I love. I can find it at most grocery stores these days but orzo is a good alternative. And as I noted before, you can use grilled or sautéed veggies. Leftover grilled zucchini, peppers and onions are delicious, but you can also sauté them ahead of time. Preferably in the same pan you use for the Israeli couscous, just because I hate the idea of washing another pan.
And totally not related to food, but did you know that you can download audiobooks from your local library? I am totally hooked! I was testing this recipe while listening to Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell – an old favorite and perfect for this time of year when you are thinking about vacations. And yes, I know I’m a dork.
|Zucchini and Couscous Salad with Zatar Vinaigrette|| |
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 red bell pepper
- ¼ red onion
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons zatar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 16 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup Israeli couscous, prepared per the directions on the package and then rinsed in cold water
- Cut zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and red onion into small pieces and toss with neutral oil
- Grill veggies in a grill basket or sauté until softened - about 5 minutes
- Set veggies aside and allow to cool
- In a large bowl mix together salt, zatar, lemon juice and olive oil
- Whisk together and toss in chickpeas and veggies
- Stir in cooked Israeli couscous
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste
- Allow to sit 15-30 minutes before serving