Couscous Salad with Garbanzo Beans and Dates


I’m a fan of picnics.  Food and outdoors.

What’s not to like?

Living in Central NY I forgot how great picnics can be.  Now that I’m back in Southern California, and especially in Orange County, there are parks everywhere.  It’s quickly becoming my favorite pass time.

The beauty of California is that you can go on picnics basically year-round.  It’s February, and I’ve easily gone on at least 3 picnics this year.

You know what that means?  I need to start diversifying my picnic menu.  I started with cheese, crackers, fruit, sliced vegetables and hummus for dipping.  Now I’m getting more intense.  This last picnic involved plates and forks.

Watch out, I’m gettin’ fancy.

So the most recent picnic menu:

  • Couscous Salad with Garbanzo Beans and Dates
  • Lemon-Parmesan Asparagus
  • Fruit Salad

Let me tell you about this couscous salad.  Of course I brought it in a jar, but jars are optional.

The great thing about this salad (if we can really call it a salad) is how easy it is to make.    If picnics aren’t your thing, this is pretty great for a potluck as well.  Give it a try.  It’s mild but slightly exotic tasting.

I say yes.

Couscous Salad with Garbanzo Beans and Dates

adapted from Epicurious

2 cups water
1 tsp salt
10 ounces couscous
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cups chopped dates
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Boil water, add salt and stir in couscous.  Cover and turn off the flame, keep covered for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prep all the ingredients (i.e. chop dates, cilantro, onions, etc.).  Once the couscous is ready, fluff it with a fork and transfer it to a large bowl to cool.

In a small bowl combine lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and cardamom.  Pour over cooled couscous and toss.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, toss and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours.  At this point you can search for the perfect picnic spot.  Once you’re there, serve and enjoy!

Easy, delicious, healthy and completely transportable. Perfect for picnics.

So if you’re in warmer climates, go on a picnic soon and make this.  If you’re in the cold, lay a blanket in your living room and have an indoor picnic, it’s not quite as fun but it’ll hold you over til late spring/summer.

Just saying, it’s worth a try.

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