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Shrimp and Couscous Salad

Shrimp and Couscous Salad

The first time I actually saw couscous being prepared was when my husband and I stayed with French friends who had worked in North Africa. We had vacationed in Morocco but had obviously never been in the kitchens to see what was happening.

So about twenty years ago couscous wasn't anything like the instant preparation it is now. Couscous is basically a very tiny pasta - almost a grain of sand in size. We had made the traditional lamb, chicken and vegetable casserole that is also known by the title couscous. We had the pot of stew simmering on the stove with a fine colander fitted into the neck of the pan. The dry grains were then moistened with some of the broth, left to steam for a few minutes and then this process was repeated until the couscous was finally ready. I can't even remember how long it took to do because I only made it a few times again in England.

Now, couscous (Near East brand) comes in a 10oz packet that you just add to boiling water, broth etc and leave to sit for about 5 minutes while it absorbs the water and swells.

Ingredients - makes about 4-5 cups

  • 1¼ c chicken broth (V8 vegetable juice is a good substitute - there is also a spicy option)
  • 1c of dry couscous from a 10 oz packet plain couscous (a packet contains about 1 cup dry couscous.)
  • grated rind of half a lemon
  • 1 small zucchini, finely chopped or shredded in processor
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped or shredded
  • The green part of 2 green onions finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint - chop the herbs in the jug you will use to make the olive oil dressing.
  • 1 large tomato chopped or equivalent of cherry or grape tomatoes quartered (about 12 grape tomatoes)
  • 4" piece of cucumber peeled and diced
  • ½ c olive oil
  • 2-4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice - start with 2 tbsps of lemon juice for first time of making and increase quantity if you want more of a lemon flavor.
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ lb thawed and rinsed cooked shrimp. I like the 150-200/lb that Costco normally carries, cleaned with no black vein. Recently I have been buying their 50-70/lb cooked black tiger shrimp.
  • Cashew Nuts (optional)

Method

1. Bring broth to a boil in a 6 qt. pan and add lemon rind. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and leave to absorb liquid - about 5 minutes in total.

2. Add zucchini, carrots, tomato, cucumber, green onion and herbs and mix well.

3. In a 1c jug mix together olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper and stir with a fork or whisk until the mix looks creamy - an emulsion has been formed.

4. Pour this dressing over couscous, stir in shrimp, stir well and transfer to serving bowl . Refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

5. Top with some cashew nuts for extra crunch, or peanuts, smoked almonds etc.

Notes

Some finely chopped celery or green pepper would also go well. Freshly chopped apple could be added but the apple pieces would need to be turned in lemon juice before adding to the salad to prevent browning.

Use ½ - ¾ cup of your own favorite salad dressing for a change of flavor.
  • Italian version - add chopped fresh basil, 1/3 lb pepperoni julienned, 1/3 c of sun dried tomatoes sliced, -1 roasted red pepper diced, 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar, sliced olives, capers. Omit mint.
  • Mexican version - add ground chipotle pepper to the broth, add cilantro, substitute lime rind for lemon rind, add chick peas, fresh mango.
  • Greek Version - oregano, mint, olives, feta cheese, tomatoes.
Add any substitution of cubed turkey, ham etc, add chick peas, kidney beans. Any range of spices of herbs can be added to broth to flavor it. Use orange rind.

PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBSTITUTIONS AND DIFFERENT METHODS WILL AFFECT FINAL TASTE.
© 2000-2005 Royal Temptations


Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers Catering services, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner and has her own series on Merrimack TV. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.
 
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