March 01, 2013
Do you ever just crave “summertime” food? I know that I do. I love everything about the winter: the food, the snow, the outdoor fun and the cold, but I do enjoy a summertime meal every once in a while. One meal that just screams “summertime” is a cold pasta salad and barbecue chicken. Zach and I decided this was just what we would have for dinner tonight. This morning I whipped up a Greek-style couscous salad with a wonderful white balsamic vinaigrette. It’s currently chilling in the refrigerator and we can’t wait to dig in! We are pairing it with a wonderful summertime beer that has me dreaming of warm weather, sunny skies and the ocean.
I feel like Zach and I tend to generally pair our dishes with beers that come from the West. I don’t think this is necessarily fair to those of you that live in the East. There are so many great breweries out there, that are right up there in competition with the great breweries of Colorado and California. Along with the likes of Dogfish Head, Ommegang and Victory in the East comes Tröegs Brewing Company straight out of central(ish) Pennsylvania. I feel like Tröegs is often over looked. They make some great beer! They actually won a TON of awards this year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It’s really a shame that they don’t distribute farther. Their Sunshine Pils is a great summer beer. It’s not heavy at all and is crisp and delicious which is what you want on a warm day. In general, I don’t often lean toward pilsners. The heavier the better is usually what I’m going for, but every once in a while a pilsner pops up that proves me wrong. Sunshine Pils is one of those brews. Unfortunately we can’t get Tröegs here, but don’t worry we stock up when ever we head back to Pennsylvania for a visit.
For this pasta salad, I wanted to go a different way. I love Israeli-style couscous and don’t cook with it as much as I’d like to. I also love Greek flavors which we also don’t cook with very often. This salad is packed full of great raw veggie flavor: with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and more. I believe it will pair perfectly with barbecue chicken later and a great pilsner later on for dinner. It will be just like summer, even though it’s supposed to be bitterly cold tonight and Zach may freeze to death while he’s grilling. I’m willing to take the chance for some good food though =). He’ll be ok…
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
P.S. Make sure you let the salad chill for a little while! You want those flavors to become great friends!
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + ½ cup
- 2 cups Israeli-style couscous
- 2½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt + extra
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper + extra
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked Hungarian paprika
- 1 small cucumber, diced
- 1 cup yellow grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup red grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, minced
- 8 ounces feta, cubed
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- In a saucepan, toast the couscous by heating a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add the couscous and cook until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add the water and the kosher salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the couscous is al dente. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoons sea salt, ½ teaspoon ground pepper, cayenne and paprika until smooth. Set aside.
- Combine the cooked couscous, dressing, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion oregano, feta and almond. Toss to combine and adjust seasoning to taste by adding salt and/or pepper.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld and serve cold.