BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Can’t Stand the Heat

33 Comments

Making the transition back to a summer climate, that elusive warm state that up until recently seemed to exist only in exotic locales, many miles away, has been a bit more jarring than initially anticipated. Yes, of course, I realized that it would someday register above 70 degrees outside, and yes, New England is notorious for its oppressive humidity, but somehow that all slipped my mind as I daydreamed of summer just a month or two ago. Happily glossing over those unpleasant aspects, I somehow envisioned a June and July as the two most perfect months of the year; free of bugs, hot but crisp and dry, and with gentle showers in the evenings to cool things down each night. We’re still just on the cusp of Summer, but already reality has smacked me in the face and set me straight. That ideal summer just doesn’t exist, my dear.

And just as suddenly, the kitchen is no longer the 24/7 hangout, the thought of lighting up every burner and cranking the oven as high as it will go growing less appealing by the day.  Anything that can be made in quantity, stuffed into the fridge for later, and eaten cold with no fuss has become my favorite thing on the menu.  This means lots of cold salads, primarily, but rarely the leafy, insubstantial sort one might initially envision.  I’m talking nutrient-dense, hearty chilled melanges of anything from grains, beans, nuts, tubers, pasta- Anything in the house is fair game when I’m putting together one of these powerhouse one-bowl meals.

Having pledged my allegiance to no one cuisine in particular, what often results is an odd fusion of ingredients and flavors, as this particular riot of colors and textures in a bowl may indicate. Borrowing both an Asian and Mediterranean sensibility, cooked pearl couscous and fresh veggies meet edamame, all married together beneath of light blanket of miso dressing. Refreshing and light but still filling and full of flavor, it’s the kind of salad that’s just as happy being thrown on a plate for a rushed weekday lunch, taking in the glorious AC, as it is being bundled up with care for a picnic on the beach. No matter what Summer throws at you, you’ve got to be prepared!

Mediter-Asian Couscous Salad

Sweet Miso Dressing:

1 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Soy Yogurt
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/3 Cup White Miso Paste
3 Tablespoons Honey-Flavored Agave, or Amber Agave Nectar
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1 Tablespoon Tamari or Soy Sauce

Mediter-Asian Salad:

1/2 Pound (1 1/4 Cups) Israeli (Pearl) Couscous*
1 Cup Kalamata Olives, Pitted and Sliced
1 1/2 Cups Diced English Cucumber
1 Small Tomato, Diced
1/2 Cup Chopped Roasted Red Pepper
1/4 Cup Finely Diced Red Onion
1 Cup Shelled Edamame (Thawed if Frozen)
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Scallions
10 – 12 Fresh Mint Leaves, Chiffonade
1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts

*For this particular rendition pictured above, I used the Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s, which simply adds some orzo pasta, quinoa, small beans and such into the mix. Pearl couscous is simply more accessible, in case you don’t have a local Trader Joe’s to raid.

First things first, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside for the time being.

Moving on to the bulk of the salad, cook you Israeli couscous or couscous blend according to the package, drain (or if it’s meant to absorb all of the liquid while cooking, simply transfer it to a strainer) and rinse under cold water until cool to the touch. This will both help to stop the cooking and get it down to a workable temperature. Move the cooked couscous into a large bowl, and add in all of the cut veggies, edamame, and herbs. Toss lightly to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. Start by mixing in about 1/2 cup of your prepared miso dressing, mix to incorporate and coat all of the goods, and stir in an additional splash or two until it’s dressed to your liking.

If you want to make this salad in advance, mix in only the initial 1/2 cup of dressing for now, and incorporate the final addition right before serving. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top to finish.

Store in a large, air-tight container for 3 – 4 days. Separately, the dressing will keep for 7 – 10 days.

Serves 6 – 8

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

33 thoughts on “Can’t Stand the Heat

  1. I’m still wanting to be in the kitchen– it hasn’t peaked 65 degrees here! I’m excited for when we’ll be in Michigan in a couple weeks though– we are moving there, so hopefully it’ll be warm there. At least there will lots of produce to make this wonderful salad!

  2. I like your imaginary vision of June and July. If only …
    Your salad looks great — at first I thought it was barley, which would also be good. I’ll have to look for the mix at Trader Joe’s.

  3. This is crazy! I just rearranged my kitchen and moved around jars of beans, grains, spice, etc. And found that very bag of mixed grains and beans from Trader Joe’s! So I’m going to use that bag to make your gorgeous recipe! Thanks!

  4. What a beautiful cous cous salad! Looks perfect for a picnic–or just hiding away inside with AC blasting :)

  5. I love powerhouse one bowl meals. And I love the idea of Asian Mediterranean fusion. Brilliant!

  6. That looks so refreshing!

  7. that’s just the way i’ve been eating these days, too: throw whatever in a bowl on top of some lettuce and call it a salad. this one looks beautiful. i adore pearl couscous!

  8. Looks amazing! I wish that were my lunch today…yum.

  9. The salad looks amazing Hannah..
    I wish I could reach out for that fork and eat it all up

  10. Summer really just did kind of come along and pull out the rug from under us with no warning. All of a sudden – 100 degrees! Insanity.

    These are exactly the type of salads that I love to throw together. Just coo up one big batch of beans, one grain, and chop some veggies. BOOM. Heaven.

  11. I love miso and the heat has been intolerable around here too — what a cute and tasty salad to refresh ourselves!

  12. This looks awesome! I love these kind of salad recipes. Thanks!

  13. I’m definitely making this! Even though it’s winter here, so I might try eating it warm.

    Melange is the BEST word for meals. I use it every time I mix a hodge podge of ingredients together into one big colourful bowl. These meals are often my favourites, but hard to recreate if you weren’t keeping track of your ingredients!

  14. That is one gorgeous salad and is definitely perfect for the summer heat. The pearl couscous is really pretty and it’s something I’ve never made…I’ll definitely have to pick some up and give it a try!

  15. I wish I could say the same about the UK but I actually wore a scarf the other day! Still, I don’t think that will stop me trying out this dish. looks delicious!

  16. Ohh yum!! This looks fantastic, Hannah!

  17. Everyone needs a good Asia Mediterranean fusion salad…

    This dish looks fabulous and would be such a great hearty addition to a picnic party or BBQ. I often end up invited to those gatherings where sliced watermelon is the only vegan offering. I think I’ll plan to pack a big container of this deliciousness for the next one.

    xo

  18. An amazing salad for a summer evening. I, too, use the Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend a lot when cooking, so I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Oh I DO have a Trader Joe’s to raid, and will. This sounds great. I make a pasta salad similar to this one but the dressing sounds great. Do you have a sub recommendation for mirin? For some reason I can never find it but I’ve heard apple juice works?

    • I hadn’t heard of the apple juice for mirin sub before, but it sounds like that might be a good idea! Otherwise, I would suggest a sweet white wine.

      Let me know what you go with, and what you think! :)

  20. That looks great & I have a tonne of that cous cous in my pantry.

  21. this is a yummy yummy salad!!!
    absolutely delicious!!!!

    XOXO
    elena

  22. This looks like the perfect summer meal! Making up a new grocery list right now :)

  23. Ugh, the heat just started over here. The salad looks perfect for weather like this. :-)

  24. This is a fantastic meal while in my current Arizona heat. That sweet miso dressing sounds AMAZING! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Great photo. I’ll swap you some Arkansas humidity for New England humidity.:) I too love making cold dishes in the summer, even with the AC cranking. This recipe looks fabulous.

  26. Beautiful looking salad, I just wish I could get that pearl couscous here, this is the 2nd recipe I’ve seen this week using it, the other one was in the amazing Ottolenghi cookbook. Must try harder, will find it eventually!!

  27. This looks awesome. I will definitely try and replicate!

  28. Clearly, I’m a little back logged on my reader – but I just had to say this photo is absolutely gorgeous! The colors, the placement, the reflections, etc, etc, etc… I just love it!

  29. Honestly that salad looks so good

  30. Pingback: Food for Thought 31 trustudio | imagery that touches your soul | a Chicago based lifestyle photography duo trustudio | imagery that touches your soul | a Chicago based creative lifestyle photography duo

  31. This is exactly the kind of salad I love to eat!

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