Mediterranean Pearl Couscous Salad
What are Potluck Recipes? Potluck is where there is a communal gathering where guests bring a dish to share with others. Potluck dinner, Potluck lunch, spread, bring and share, covered dish, pass on dish etc are some other terms used for food that is prepared by a guest at home and brought to the host’s place to share with others. While most guests prefer to cook something, these the trend is moving to buying food from restaurants or stores and sharing.
The overall idea of having guests bring a dish means you land up with a feast. However sometimes these kind of parties can turn into a disaster if the host doesn’t plan well. Here are some guidelines that you may want to consider if you’re going to host a potluck party.
- It’s usually best to indicate how many dishes are expected and for which course right from soups and starters to desserts. You don’t everyone turning up with a dessert or side dish and no main dish. The guests then can choose which course is most convenient for them to prepare or bring along.
- Indicate to the guest if you don’t have the correct crockery for the dish e.g. if a guest is bringing some ice cream, you need enough bowls. Vice versa its always courteous that the guests informs the host what kind of crockery he or she may need.
- Its best to organize the list according to the equipment required in the kitchen. Can you imagine if all the dishes required an oven to warm up their dishes.
- be mindful of dietary requirements. E.g. if there is going to be a crowd where due to religion or belief some may not eat beef or pork, go for a neutral dish like chicken. This mindfulness is usually required for non vegetarian dishes.
- Make sure dishes are not too strong smelling of onion, garlic, fish etc, not too spicy and stale. The worse thing to serve to guests is stale food.
- Try and bring along your food preparation in a container that can be used as the serving tray or bowl. Don’t increase the host’s work by transferring food from your container to something from the host’s kitchen.
- If possible suggest a theme so that the dishes complement each other e.g. Diwali party, Mexican etc.
- Prepare a dish that does not require a long cooking time at the host’s place.E.g. if you’re taking idli sambhar, prepare the idlis and take it to the host’s place. Don’t wait to steam them at her/his place.
- Share out the dishes to the other guests e.g. one brings chole the other brings the bhaturas.
- Make dishes that are easy to prepare especially if the crowd is large.
I usually have to take salads, desserts or main dish for potluck parties which is absolutely fine by me. Its only that sometimes carrying the dessert becomes a bit tricky especially in the hot weather.
Are you wondering why I’m talking about Potluck Parties? Well, Preethi who blogs at Preethi’s Cuisine suggested Potluck Recipes as the #174th them for the FoodieMonday/Bloghop group.
I had bought some Pearl Couscous, Israeli Couscous, Jerusalem Couscous or Ptitim as its called is not couscous as we know it. Its a type of toasted pasta which is shaped like rice grains or little balls or other small shapes. It is made from wheat flour and was developed in Israel during the 1950s when rice was scarce. The texture of the cooked couscous is a bit chewy, a bit like tapioca pearls or sabudana. I had bought Pearl Couscous from a shop in Montreal. I seriously cannot remember the name of this wonderful shop which is just opposite the Jean Talon Market. It has so many types of grains, beans, pulses, spices, dry fruits, candies, chocolates, and so much more. I always land up picking stuff from that shop and the best part is that you pick how much you want, they weigh it and price it accordingly. When I saw pearl couscous I had heard about it but didn’t know how to prepare it . I picked it anyway and now regret for not buying a larger quantity. A cupful is not enough!
The potluck recipe I prepared was a Mediterranean Pearl Couscous Salad. Easy to make, fuss free and filling too. Carry the dressing separately and mix it in just before serving time.
MEDITERRANEAN PEARL COUSCOUS SALAD
1 cup pearl couscous
1½ cups water
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup cherry/plum tomatoes, cut into halves
1 cup diced cucumber
10-12 olives of your choice, sliced
¼ cup chopped spring onion
10-12 mint leaves
¼ cup lightly roasted pine nuts
½ cup (approx 70-80g) feta cheese cut into small cubes or crumbled
Lemon Zaatar Dressing:
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp Himalayan salt or normal salt
1 tsp zaatar
Preparation of the couscous:
- Boil the measured water in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the couscous to the boiling water. Mix well and let it cook for 10-12 minutes or till its just done. Like normal pasta it should be al dente and not overcooked.
- Drain out any extra water. Add 1 tsp olive oil.
- Mix well and put it into a serving bowl. Let it cool down a bit.
- Add the cucumber, mint, olives, tomatoes, pine nuts and spring onions.
- Mix well. Add the feta cheese and mix it in gently.
Preparation of the Lemon Zaatar Dressing:
- Mix all the ingredients in a jar and give it a good shake.
- Leave the dressing in the jar to carry.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad, mix gently and serve.
- Keep the salad in the fridge till required.
- Add veggies like bell pepper.
- If you don’t have zaatar, add dried mixed herbs instead.
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