Some dishes just have no right to be so good. They’re too simple, too ordinary, too easy to yield such spectacular results. No matter how uninspired the ingredients look on paper, a jolt of bold flavor belies such humble components. It’s the kind of dish that makes you wonder what magic has conspired in the kitchen, or perhaps, some secret MSG is spiking the punch.
Such is the case for the curried couscous salad at Mendocino Farms. The creamy, golden yellow pasta pearls don’t even look vegan at a glance, but lo! Clear labels reassure eaters that it’s vegan mayonnaise carrying the torch.
Decadent to a degree that would make the average side salad blush, a large part of me wants to hate it on principle. One should never add sugar to a savory dish, and at such a lethal dose! Mayonnaise should be used sparingly at best, a breezy whisper across a slice of bread, barely detectable by the human eye. Then, to go ahead an add even more oil on top of that fatty spread sounds purely excessive, unnecessary, uncalled for, hedonistic in the worst kind of way…!
But, falling prey to the offer of a free sample, I cast all common sense to the wind, letting go of those ingrained notions of decency just long enough to get hooked. I can’t get enough, and I don’t quite know why.
Perhaps the appeal is exactly for all those reasons. It’s because it flies in the face of preconceived boundaries of health and balance, that somehow, it manages to simply WORK.
I can’t claim to understand the compelling appeal of the curried couscous salad, but I can’t deny it, either.
- 1 Pound Pearl or Israeli Couscous
- 1 Head Cauliflower, Florets Finely Diced
- 1 Tablespoon Madras Curry Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Turmeric
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Small Carrots, Peeled and Finely Diced
- 1 Cup Vegan Mayonnaise
- 1 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1. Cook the couscous until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Rinse thoroughly in cold water, drain well, place in a large bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a separate bowl, toss the cauliflower with the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne, brown sugar and oil. Spread out on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until cauliflower is browned around the edges but still crunchy, about 10 minutes. Remove just the cauliflower and put it in the bowl with the pasta.
3. On the same rimmed baking sheet, place the carrots and, using a spatula, toss the carrots with the leftover spices and oil. Roast the carrots until brown around the edges but still crunchy, about 8 minutes. Add to the couscous.
4. Fold in the vegan mayonnaise, cilantro and lime juice with the pasta. Taste, and adjust spices and seasoning if desired. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Recipe lightly adapted from the LA Times
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 414mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g