Dear East Village Kitchen Readers,
I owe you an apology. Last week I failed to deliver one single post to you lovely people. Instead, I allowed my corner of the heavy object that we agreed to carry up the stairs together to slip through my fingers. I didn’t show up for your fundraiser, art show, or going away party, even though I promised I would be there. I committed to bringing a gorgeous fresh fruit tart to your dinner party, and then showed up with a Costco sheet cake with your name spelled incorrectly in fake buttercream frosting (this last one is made up – I’d never, ever commit such an atrocity).
I’m disappointed in myself because, despite my convictions to do better, I didn’t cook very much and I only went to the gym three times yeah, OK, fine, twice. It was supposed to be the week that I charged ahead with my new bread-baking self, the woman who manages her life, kicking ass and taking names along the way. It was supposed to be the week that I raised my coffee mug high and laughed in the face of my early morning schedule. But alas, it was all takeout and Hulu and hmmm, what’s that you say about a wedding? You mean, people plan those after they get engaged? Well, I never.
So here we are again, a Monday night, the chance to turn over a new leaf and I’m on board. I’m carpe-ing this diem.
The market is full of delicious things and so is my refrigerator. This salad, which is based on my mother’s cheese tortellini version, is designed to be eaten cold. Just cook the couscous and make the pesto ahead of time, then chill the whole thing down and add the tomato and onion just before you are ready to serve. It’s a flexible recipe, feel free to adjust the olive oil and seasoning to your liking, and you can choose to add parmesan or leave it out all together. This salad keeps for a few days in the fridge and it’s a light crowd-pleaser at picnics.
I promise that this week, there will be recipes and probably some bread to ogle as I pull myself from my slump. In the meantime, thank you ever so much for your continued readership.
PS – Check out my pictures from a demo at the French Culinary Institute that I took this week of Alex Stupak, pastry chef at WD-50, showing us desserts that are on the menu now. Click here to jump to my Flickr page.
Israeli Couscous Pesto Salad
Inspired by my mother’s recipe for tortellini salad
serves 8 side portions
2 cups Israeli couscous
3 cups water
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 a large red onion, finely diced
1 large bunch of basil (approx. 10 stems)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 fresh lemons, juiced
fresh ground black pepper
grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring salted water to boil in a medium saucepan with a lid. When water is boiling, stir in couscous, allow it to come back to a rolling boil and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover and remove from heat, and allow it to sit covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, test for doneness (if it still is too crunchy, replace the lid and wait a few more minutes), and fluff the couscous with a fork. Place in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
In a food processor or blender, place the basil leaves, lemon juice, and olive oil (feel free to adjust amount to your taste) and pulse for 1-2 minutes. Open up the lid and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove cooled couscous from the fridge and stir in the pesto. Add onions and tomatoes and stir until all of the couscous is coated with pesto and all of the onions and tomatoes are uniformly integrated. Grate parmasean cheese over the top, toss and serve cold. Will keep for 2 days in a covered container in the fridge.