Smarties, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the newest addition to our Smarty team, Cynthia Clark. Cynthia is heading up our Smarty Cooking School Series and will feature her favorite recipes in an easy-to-follow format. Cynthia is a natural born chef, we cannot wait to see what she has cooking for us!
Here’s Cynthia! ~Jen
We ALL have them…those 5 to 10 standby recipes that seem to sneak their way into our weekly meal rotations, week after week…after.week. You know the ones we all know by heart, and can prepare all the while spouting out spelling words, answering a phone call, and perhaps the occasional, “stop whatever it is you’re doing that you know you’re NOT supposed to be doing” to the kids. Even with all the commotion that is a household, you can make without missing a beat because you’ve made it that many times before. The beauty of this one is that even though I have made it a million times, this will be a new a fresh one for each of you…you’re welcome ;o)
One of the things I love about this dish is that if you’re really pressed for time, you can swing by Harris Teeter on your way home, grab a rotisserie chicken (a bottle of chilled wine perhaps ;o) some cut up fruit, and all you have to do when you get home, is prepare this delicious, fresh, filling and protein packed “salad” – dinner is done!
My (VERY) picky son even gobbles this one up, but feel free to change up the veggies to suit your family. I would LOVE to add corn to this bad boy, but if Grant so much as sees a kernel in the dish…it won’t get touched, so I leave them out. Leftovers make a great lunch the next day!
Here are the main players for the actual salad:
– Whole wheat couscous
– Chicken broth/stock
– Black beans
– Green onions
– Red bell peppers
– Green bell peppers
Lime juice, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper, honey and *smoked paprika (I know, I know…most people won’t have smoked paprika so you can totally use chili powder, however, I highly recommend you get some and keep in your pantry. The warm smoky flavor you get from it is one you will reach for time and time again…I promise!!!)
First thing’s first…prepare the couscous. Bring one 14oz can of reduced sodium chicken stock to a rolling boil. Once it’s boiling, add cumin and couscous, turn OFF the heat, give it stir, cover it and let it be. In the meantime…let’s make that dressing!!!
Whisk the lime juice, vinegar, oil, honey, cumin and smoked paprika in a bowl, give a taste and add salt and pepper. I will tell you, you are going to think it tastes a bit acidic or tart…leave it alone. Resist the urge to add more “this and that”. Once all of the other ingredients go in, it will mellow it out and they will marry perfectly together.
After you whisk it all, add the chopped veggies (I like to chop all the peppers about the same size as the beans, that way you can get a little of everything in each bite!)
Stir well to combine, then add the can of (drained and rinsed) black beans and toss again.
One you get to this point, you could STOP, and eat as a fresh and healthy salsa with some chips and guacamole, OR one of my favorites, is use this “fresh black bean and pepper salsa” to top some fresh grilled tilapia…spritz of lime and you’ve got yourself another quick meal…but I digress…;o) Back to the couscous…take off the lid and use a fork to “fluff” it well. I should also add that I like my couscous on the “moist” side, while I know many others prefer it “fluffier”. If that’s you, cut back on the chicken stock by about ¼ C, but don’t skimp on the dressing…leave that part as is.
Here’s my little trick…I only use HALF of the couscous for this salad, and I freeze the other half for a quick meal another day.
*So for this recipe, just add half (about 1 ½ C) of the cooked couscous to the salad and mix well.
Once you’ve tossed everything together, give it a taste and adjust seasoning. I tend to use low sodium beans and low sodium stock, so at this point I almost always need to add a little more kosher salt (about ¼ tsp or so) toss well again…taste again and serve!!! This is great with some grilled or roasted chicken, and is even better served cold the next day for lunch!! Quick, healthy and so versatile! I always make this at BBQ’s and it’s one of the first things to go! Enjoy!!!
Juice of 1 lime (I buy the bag of limes from HT or TJ, and they are usually on the smaller side)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin
2 tsp honey
3 TBS red wine vinegar
4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1-14 oz can reduced sodium, 99% fat free chicken broth or chicken stock
1 scant C couscous
¼ tsp couscous
¾ C Fresh cilantro leaves, then chop finely (approx 3 TBS once chopped)
2 stalks of green onion, finely minced
¾ red bell pepper, chopped about the same size as the black beans
½ green bell pepper, chopped about the same size as the black beans
1 can reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed