I love good comfort food in the cool months like roasts, stews, and mac-n-cheese, of course. But, sometimes my body needs a healthy break. That is when I crave a nice grain salad. Still, I want something that has the flavor of Fall, warm with spice and a touch of sweetness. This recipe certainly delivers.
I came across this recipes years ago while shopping at The Fresh Market in South Carolina (shout out to family and friends in the Carolinas:) It was on a recipe card placed by the dried fruits and nuts bin. I read it and then proceeded to load my cart with dried cranberries, couscous, some nuts and spices and hurried home. Mmmm...I can still taste that first bite. There is the sweetness from the dried cranberries, the toasty crunch from the almonds, the spice from the cumin and cinnamon, and the fresh orange juice just brings it all together into one satisfying salad.
I enjoy the couscous all by its lovely self, but you can certainly serve it as a side to chicken or pork. Wait, I just had a thought...what if you stuffed a chicken breast with the couscous and some goat cheese? That might be yummy! It is also perfect to pack on a Fall picnic. Feel free to play around with the ingredients. You can sub the almonds for pecans or walnuts. You can sub the dried cranberries for cherries or currants. You can use water instead of chicken broth to make it vegetarian. Just remember, make it for you...make it your own.
1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (store bought is too sweet)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds (1-2.25 oz package)
1 teaspoon orange zest (use a fine Microplane if you have one)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
kosher salt to taste
Almond oil or Extra Virgin olive oil to drizzle
Preheat the oven to 350º. Place the almonds on a small baking sheet. Bake until toasted and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan bring chicken broth/water and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in couscous. Cover with a lid and let stand for 5 minutes. In a small bowl combine cranberries and orange juice. Heat in a microwave until the cranberries are hot enough to absorb the liquid, about 30-45 seconds. Set aside to steep for 2-3 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the cranberries with any remaining juice, nuts, zest and spices. Add parsley and season to taste with kosher salt. Drizzle with a bit of oil. Enjoy!