Monday, December 31, 2012

Cranberry Almond Couscous with Maple Balsamic Dressing


For such a long and fancy-sounding title, this recipe is actually very easy to make and tastes absolutely incredible! The different flavours and textures of the couscous, toasted nuts, dried cranberries, and sweet and tangy dressing combine beautifully to create a filling yet light side or main dish. I brought this to a potluck dinner a little while back and it was happily devoured by my friends. The maple balsamic dressing can also be used as a glaze or marinade for tofu, chicken, or salmon, or as a dressing for salad or roasted vegetables.

Maple Balsamic Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. tahini (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Pinch of salt and pepper

Couscous Ingredients:
6 cups prepared Israeli or pearl couscous - This type of couscous is larger, chewier, and heartier than the other varieties of couscous. 
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped


Prepare the maple balsamic dressing by combining the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, tahini, garlic, salt and pepper in a lidded jar or small blender. Shake or pulse until blended, and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the couscous.

I used this brand of couscous that I found at Costco. It is a mix of whole wheat Israeli couscous, red and green orzo pasta, split dried garbonzo beans, and red quinoa. It's delicious!

Prepare the couscous according to the package directions for a yield of 6 cups when cooked. During the last few minutes of cooking time, add in the dried cranberries so they can absorb some of the liquid and plump up a bit. Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds and toast them in a large skillet over medium heat for approx. 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Once you remove the couscous from the heat, stir in the toasted almonds.

Allow the couscous to cool slightly, then pour in the prepared maple balsamic dressing and stir until it is evenly coated. Serve hot or cold. I've enjoyed this recipe as a main dish, a side dish, and mixed into a salad of fresh greens.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

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