As children, pearl couscous was served to us hot - with sour cream and cinnamon or, more commonly, cooked in a picante tomato broth, accompanying crispy schnitzel. This hearty bowl is our attempt at recreating that “homemade” feeling, with a more “grown up” flavor profile, ideal for summer dining.
Yield: 4 medium portions, or 2 large Prep Time: 25 min Wait Time: 40 min.
INGREDIENTS ½ box (about ½ lb.) pearl couscous, cooked according to package instructions and chilled *tip: make sure not to overcook the pasta - al dente texture is best for this use 3 bunches rainbow or red swiss chard, washed, stemmed and chopped (stems included) 1 cup golden raisins, slightly rehydrated in warm water 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 4 tbsp. harissa, portioned in two (2 oz. + 2 oz.)
1 shallot, peeled and finely minced 1 small log (about 4oz.) fresh goat cheese or chevre, crumbled ⅓ cup shelled sunflower seeds, toasted and lightly salted 2 tbsp. date honey (or regular honey) 4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar About 1/2 cup olive oil, fruity is best ½ lemon, freshly squeezed for juice 1 tbsp. sumac, dry spice 1 tbsp. cumin, ground 2 tsp. kosher salt ½ tsp. black pepper, coarse ground More olive oil, as needed
Cook pearl couscous according to package instructions until it reaches an al dente texture. Drain using a fine mesh sieve, and rinse with cold water to stop pasta from further cooking. Drain again, and set aside.
Prepare chickpeas (drain and rinse), and toss with one portion harissa. Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil, if necessary, to coat all chickpeas with harissa. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at a preheated 400F degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until chickpeas are crunchy.
Prepare swiss chard (wash, stem, chop) and saute with shallots, one portion harissa, cumin and ⅓ cup tap water on medium heat, until wilted and the liquids have evaporated. Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice from ½ a juicy lemon.
For the dressing: mix together date honey (sub: regular honey), apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing becomes an emulsified vinaigrette.
In a large-ish bowl, combine the chilled pearl couscous with the sauteed swiss chard, roasted chickpeas, toasted sunflower seeds, creamy goat cheese and plump raisins, and toss in the date honey vinaigrette. Sprinkle sumac on the bowl, and mix thoroughly again.
Serve immediately, or within the next 3 days.
Tip: It’s best when all ingredients are served at room temp.