Sunny Days, Kayaking and Couscous Salad

The wet side of Washington State isn’t known for having spectacular weather on Memorial Weekend so a sunny Saturday was amazing, especially as it got into the low 70′s. Although it wasn’t looking that way on Friday afternoon when we caught the edge of a huge thunderstorm system that slammed into the Cascade Mountains around Mt. Rainier. Thunder isn’t common so I took the kids back inside to wait it out. It was good and noisy but no lighting – ah well!

Alistaire is so strong I decided to see if he was ready to face out in his BABYBJÖRN Classic Original Baby Carrier. He was, but I still need to lower it more, he was riding too high. Frankly I think I need to use the second larger  BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Active, Black/Red instead, it goes bigger. Mostly it is length issues, he is over 26″ tall and the Classic is designed for smaller babies. That and his weight is a neck killer, the Active should work better (it did with Walker). I need to find my solution soon, hiking season is upon us! (And yes, I know the front is supposed to go over his shoulders….I needed to drop the sling down so I cheated).

Saturday Kirk took the kayak down to the lake we live above. We always joke about our “lake views”, the kids can see it from their rooms, but not us. Still, no complaints as we are less than a block away.

Birds all over and lots of blooms:

Walker sat on one of the docks and watched Daddy come in closer:

Kirk has a new kayak coming, one that we can go out together in, with the two youngest. It should be here soon! I am very excited.

Although Walker finds the sea kayak interesting enough…..

Kirk paddling off, he went through the narrow crossing to the second lake after that.

Then off to play! (Alistaire was having fun in the jogger stroller….)

Then home to a simple but filling couscous salad for an easy dinner:

Green Pea & Chickpea Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups lower sodium vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups couscous
  • ¼ cup white balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp dry or fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 15 ounce can, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Directions:

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the couscous. Stir, cover and take off heat, let rest for 10 minutes.

Whisk the vinegar through pepper in a large bowl. Fluff the couscous with a fork, add to the bowl and toss to coat. Gently stir in the peas.

Chill for a couple of hours before serving, also good warm.

Serves 4 to 6.

~Sarah

Couscous and Chickpea Salad

This salad can be eaten warm or chilled beforehand. Season to taste with salt, my version isn’t heavy on it.

Couscous and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups lower sodium vegetable broth (or chicken for a non-vegan version)
  • 1½ cups couscous
  • 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled

Dressing -

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey for non-vegan version)
  • 1 Tbsp dried or fresh green onions
  • 1 tsp dry parsley
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste, if desired

Directions:

Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add in the couscous. Take off the heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork into a large bowl, toss with the chickpeas and almonds. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat.

Serve with more almonds on top.

Serves 4 to 5.

~Sarah

Couscous Salad

I am feeling too lazy to name this salad, let us call it “Couscous Salad Version 20;-) I make couscous based salads quite often – they go together quickly on Friday or Saturday night and we have a quick-lunch for the weekend!

Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup lower sodium vegetable broth
  • 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8.75-ounce can corn, drained
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper (half of a 12-ounce jar), rinsed and patted dry, finely chopped

Dressing -

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Place the couscous in a large glass mixing bowl, bring the broth to a boil. Pour the broth over the couscous, cover with a dinner plate and let sit for 10 minutes. Break up the couscous with a fork, then mix in the garbanzo beans, corn and peppers.

In a small glass mixing bowl whisk the dressing together. Pour over the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve warm or chill for a couple of hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator tightly wrapped.

Serves 4 to 6.

~Sarah

Warm Couscous Salad

We had this very quick “salad” for lunch today (no photo, I was starving….). The salad is vegan but I did add in substitutes that can be used.

Warm Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

Dressing -

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp agave syrup (or honey)
  • 1 Tbsp diced dried onion
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 3/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Salad -

Directions:

In a medium glass mixing bowl whisk the dressing ingredients together, let sit for 30 minutes for the onions to rehydrate (you can chill the dressing if you like, it doesn’t need to be though – I made the dressing early and let it sit for a couple of hours in the refrigerator to meld flavors).

Bring the broth and vegetables to a boil in a medium saucepan, add in the couscous stirring well. Cover tightly and take off the burner, let sit for 10 minutes.

Fluff up and move to a large mixing bowl, toss with the dressing. Serve immediately or chill.

Serves 3.

~Sarah

Black Bean Couscous Salad

This was a quick dish to go with our grilled steaks last night. It can be served warm or cold.

Black Bean Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat couscous

1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken both

14 ounce bag Ultimate Southwest Blend frozen veggies or similar

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp dry cilantro or 1 Tbsp diced fresh

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

In a medium saucepan bring the broth and vegetables to a boil, take off the heat. Add in the couscous, stir well, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile whisk the dressing together. Fluff up the couscous into a bowl, drizzle on the dressing, toss well.

Serve warm or let chill for a couple of hours.

~Sarah

Chickpea Couscous Salad

Another take on our weekly pasta salads for the weekends:

Chicken Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup lower sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup whole wheat couscous

1/2 cup diced carrot

2 Tbsp diced pecans

2 Tbsp dried cranberries

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Pinch of crumbled rosemary

Directions:

In a small saucepan bring the broth and carrots to a boil. Turn off the heat and add in the couscous, stirring. Cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the couscous to a large mixing bowl and toss with the garbanzo beans, pecans and cranberries. Whisk the dressing together and drizzle over, then stir in well.

Chill for a couple of hours to meld the flavors.

Serves 4.

~Sarah

Curried Bacon Couscous Salad

Bacon, pasta and garbanzo beans? Tasty! The salad comes together in minutes and can be served warm or chilled.

Curried Bacon Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon, thick cut and lower sodium

1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced

1/2 cup diced dried carrots rehydrated in 1 cup cool water for 15 minutes or 1 cup diced fresh carrots

1 cup whole wheat couscous

1 1/2 cups water

15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

Dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp mild curry powder

Directions:

Cook the bacon in a large fry pan over medium heat until crispy. Drain the bacon on a paper towel lined plate, blotting the top as well. Let cool. Drain off all but 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease, add in the onion and carrot and cook till the onion is turning golden.

Meanwhile bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, add in the couscous. Stir well and cover, let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the couscous and garbanzo beans to a large bowl, stir in the cooked onions/carrots, mix to combine.

Whisk the dressing together and drizzle over the salad, mix till combined. Break up the bacon into small pieces, add to the salad and mix in.

~Sarah

Black Bean Couscous Salad

Last weekend I made this salad up for our Saturday lunch – another easy to make salad that can be taken with you – and that is high in protein!

Black Bean Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup lower sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole wheat couscous

15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

15 ounce can sweet corn, drained

3/4 cup chopped bell peppers (frozen works well)

Dressing -

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp dry cilantro

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

In a saucepan bring the broth to a boil, stir in the couscous. Cover tightly, remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl add the beans, corn and bell pepper, toss with the couscous.

In a small bowl whisk the dressing together, drizzle over the salad and toss gently to coat.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours to meld the flavors.

Serves 4.

~Sarah

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