I keep a lot of my dry goods vacuum sealed in jars on a shelf in my cookbook bookcase in the kitchen. I should probably keep them in the pantry like every other cook does but my pantry is overflowing and it’s probably time we started using up all the food we already have.
Every time I walked by the bookcase yesterday I saw the jar of moghrabieh, also called pearl couscous or Lebanese couscous, it called me. The last time I used it in a salad, John wasn’t fond of it so it’s been sitting in the jar for months and time to use it or toss it out. Yes, Charlie’s photo is a bit crooked. Woops! The jar on the middle shelf is dog treats. You never know when you’ll need one in an emergency. Mostly it’s “Good come, Charlie” when he’s outside woofing at pelicans.
Tossing it out wasn’t an option because that’s just wasteful. Last month I planted some coriander (cilantro) and parsley along with a few other herbs and the pots are exploding. (need a mountain of dill, anyone?) I also found half a red onion in the fridge. I was getting somewhere.
I poured through the pantry and saw a tin of baby beetroot (beets) and wondered if you could drain them and roast them a bit to dry enough to use in a salad. Well, you can. They’re a lot softer than roasted fresh beetroot but good golly it worked.
When I was moving things around in the refrigerator (for inspiration) I saw a jar of marinated feta that I’d used some of in another dish – it was going in the salad too.
I opened the freezer and found pine nuts, sliced almonds and pepitas and tossed them in a dry skillet to toast. All I needed was a dressing but I remembered seeing the little bottle of pomegranate molasses in the pantry that I have *never* used. It was in as well, along with the last lemon in the fruit bowl and some olive oil.
Finally, and this is the last bit, I promise, I found half a container of Greek yogurt in the fridge that needed to be used or tossed in the next week or so. This is a middle eastern-ish salad so I chopped some of the mint that was taking over the pot shelf outside and some cumin and it made a lovely dollop to go on top of the salad.
Remember when I said John didn’t like moghrabieh the last time I served it to him? I sat myself down in front of the tv and turned on the lunchtime news and then thought, “That’s not a nice person, you should at least ask him, you’ll get points for that.”
I yelled up the stairs, “I’ve made a salad, want some?”
He came down, had a look and said, “No, I’ll just take a bite.”
One bite. Two bites. Three bites. Then he got up and went into the kitchen. I figured he was getting something else or going to wash his fingers. No, he came back with a packet of rice crackers and dipped this salad until there was one single piece of moghrabieh left in the bowl. He used his crackers to empty the yogurt dish too. Then, while patting his stomach, he said, “This was really good, we should have this again.”
Go figure. The salad WAS that good.
- 200 grams moghrabieh (pearl couscous/lebanese couscous)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (any kind you have)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 4 beetroot(I used tinned whole baby beetroot and it worked just fine)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- pinch of salt
- ½ small red onion, finely sliced
- marinated feta (about a dozen cubes or as much as you like)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sliced (or slivered) almonds (reserve a teaspoon of the almonds, pine nuts and pepitas for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon toasted pepitas
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar (you can leave this out, it was too tart for me)
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (you could use whole seeds and pound in a mortar and pestle)
- 1 cup yogurt
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Scrub the beetroot, place on a baking tray and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Cover with foil and place in the oven for an hour.
- When cooked and soft, allow to cool, peel and slice into wedges.
- Boil a pot of water and toss in moghrabieh and cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes. Drain and place on a baking tray to cool.
- Chop the coriander (cilantro) and parsley and place in a large bowl.
- Slice the onion and add to the bowl
- Add moghrabieh and toss with your fingers.
- Add beetroot and marinated feta and toss lightly.
- Drizzle with dressing and serve with mint and cumin yogurt.
- Whisk all ingredients together until the oil disappears.
- Whisk all together.