Well, that was fun while it lasted.
The cakes, the cookies, the candy canes and champagne — fleeting memories.
Now it’s time for salads.
Salads are great, even if you haven’t made a weight-loss resolution. They’re good for you, they’re delicious and they can contain almost any combination of ingredients in creative ways.
Start with a base of lettuce, usually. It can be peppery (think arugula, radicchio or watercress), it can be buttery (think Boston lettuce), it can even be almost sweet (think baby greens).
Add whatever vegetables you like, from artichoke hearts to raw zucchini. Tomatoes and a mild form of onion are always welcome, too. You can boost the taste and the tactile appeal with a bit of crunch — croutons, toasted nuts or seeds. Everyone loves crispy noodles in their salads, and few things are more addictive than those delicious sesame sticks.
Add hard-boiled eggs if you like, and cheese will make it even better. The only problem is deciding which kind.
And all of that comes before you even settle on a dressing.
I made a salad that would be a hit at home or at any potluck: couscous salad with chickpeas.
Couscous was somewhat popular maybe a decade ago, but it has fallen out of favor. It’s time to bring it back into favor where it belongs. Though people look at it and immediately think it is quinoa or bulgur, it is actually pasta. Little, tiny bits of pasta, just right for soaking up all the flavors around them.
The flavors, in this case, come from a garlicky vinaigrette, plus mint, cinnamon, green onions and smoked paprika. Chickpeas provide an umami taste, and this earthiness is countered by the sweet acid of a tomato and salty, creamy feta cheese.
It’s a great salad.
COUSCOUS SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS
Recipe by Cooking Light
1 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
Pinch of granulated sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large ripe tomato, chopped, or a handful of cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Place couscous, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in boiling water, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
2. Combine oil, lemon juice, garlic and sugar. Add this mixture to the couscous along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, mint, green onions, paprika, chickpeas and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
Per serving: 469 calories; 19 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 15 mg cholesterol; 18 g protein; 63 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; 12 g fiber; 818 mg sodium; 154 mg calcium.