I’ve had this dish up my sleeve for a while and am excited to finally get to share it with you. Grilled vegetables–including summer’s darling, zucchini–combine with Israeli couscous, chickpeas and silky tahini for a Middle Eastern-inspired salad that’s ideal for a late summer lunch or dinner.
The beauty of the whole thing is that I had all of the main ingredients–canned chickpeas, Israeli couscous and tahini–on hand already, just begging to be used up before we move (whenever that happens to be!). All I had to buy were the fresh vegetables and lemon, but I would’ve picked those up anyway as part of Sunday food prep tomorrow.
Side note – can you think of a better time of year than late summer? Even the holiday season pales in comparison. I’m sitting in my backyard writing this (yup, listening to my own advice!) and was just overcome with such a content, vacation-y feeling. The sky is a bright, clear blue, there’s a gentle breeze ruffling the leaves above and the sun is shining. So perfect.
If tahini (sesame seed paste) is new to your cooking repertoire, you probably already know it as the background flavour in hummus. On its own it has a slightly nutty flavour, almost like a thicker, more subtle peanut butter. Combined with garlic, lemon juice and a bit of water to thin it out, tahini makes a delicious condiment that can be drizzled over vegetables and salads like a dressing.
Israeli couscous are little pasta balls made from wheat flour. They’re available in whole grain form for added health benefits, but I stuck with the original because that’s what I had in my pantry. Quinoa would be an excellent option too, and it’s admittedly more nutritious, so definitely swap that in if you so choose! Regular couscous, millet or another grain would also work well.
This salad would be a great dish to make for a summer potluck because it’s easy to make and doesn’t need to be kept cold (no spoil-prone ingredients here). If you have an outdoor barbecue or picnic coming up, give it a whirl!
For those of us who are already thinking well into the fall season, this salad would be equally delicious for lunch. Just pack in a container or mason jar with a fork and you’re good to go.
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into planks
- 1 medium Chinese eggplant (or other small eggplant), sliced into planks
- 1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
- 1 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Add the couscous to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain excess liquid, transfer couscous to a large serving bowl and set aside.
- Pre-heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the zucchini, eggplant, pepper and onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until char marks form and the vegetables are slightly tender, 2-5 minutes per side; chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. To thin out the consistency, add a little water, one or two tablespoons at a time, while whisking until the tahini sauce has the consistency of a dressing.
- Add the grilled vegetables and chickpeas to the bowl with the couscous and season with salt and pepper. Top with the tahini dressing and serve immediately.
- Don't overcook the couscous - it should be cooked through but still have bite to it (i.e., not mushy!).
- The salad can be made ahead and refrigerated. Add tahini dressing just before serving.