|Southwestern Couscous and Black Bean Salad|
When we were looking for homes, we thought we'd hit the jackpot when we found ours. A modest house on 2/3 of an acre, we could still live near neighbors without being on top of them. And, as an added bonus, the previous owners were retired landscape architects and maintenance gardeners, so it was BE-U-tiful. We thought we had landed in heaven when they called and asked, "Are there any vegetables you'd like us to plant? You'll be moved in before its time to harvest, so is there anything you'd really like to eat?"
Now, two summers later, its all we can do to keep the weeds from taking over and keeping the lettuce properly hydrated. Any success we have had is due entirely to the force of my Loving Duke's will to keep this vegetable garden functioning. Its a precarious balance-- what to grow, what to pull, what to spray-- it feels like the garden could turn on us at any minute, growing over into an uncontrollable monstrosity.
So it was no surprise today to find that even though I had planted them, I had neither cilantro nor red/orange bell peppers when I went looking for them today. I was feeling a little dejected about our unruly, less-than-fruitful garden when I spotted the basil. It was a beacon of fragrant goodness, these beautiful stalks of basil towering above the rest of our cowering garden. The basil that says, "I will grow no matter what you do. I will stand tall and true to my herbaceous nature, and I will be here for you no matter how terrible of a gardener you are. Cilanto couldn't take the heat. Mint got mixed up with all those weeds, but I AM BASIL, and I will never abandon you in your hour of need."
At least that's what I thought it was saying as I pinched off a bunch of it to use in our salad this evening. This cous-cous salad that at first glace does not seem like comfort food, is so delightful (oh, and easy) you will feel comforted just looking at it. Add the basil in there, its like the poster food for the self-empowered eater. And its pretty too. Be like my Loving Duke: eat it hot with dinner and cold the next day for lunch. Yum!
Southwestern Cous-Cous and Black Bean Salad
- 1 cup uncooked couscous (I like whole wheat, but whatever makes you happy)
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth (or boullin, or my favorite: chicken base)
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about two limes)
- 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or white, that's what I used)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 green onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (red 'cause its pretty, but I used yellow 'cause that's what I had)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh BASIL (or cilantro if you prefer)
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a 2 quart or larger sauce pan and stir in the couscous. Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and cumin. Add green onions, red pepper, cilantro or basil, corn and beans and toss to coat.
- Fluff the couscous well, breaking up any chunks. Add to the bowl with the vegetables and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at once or refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with more of your chopped herb of preference.