Recipe: Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta

Recipe: Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta

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Maria Speck
Aug 3, 2015
(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

Cubes of sweet watermelon, chunks of crunchy celery, and savory feta cheese — this hybrid between fruit salad and savory salad has lazy lunch written all over it. Whole wheat couscous provides a nourishing base — it needs no cooking, just a few minutes of steaming. What’s not to love?

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

To make this salad into a full meal, grilled chicken or shrimp are a perfect match. Or add a plate of dry-cured prosciutto and a bowl of olives alongside your bowl, and call it a day.

Tester's Notes

This is the perfect summer grain salad: nutty whole wheat couscous, juicy sweet watermelon, and salty feta cheese. The dressing is an easy mixture of lime juice and honey, and the sprinkling of mint leaves adds a refreshing herbal flavor. It would be great at your next BBQ or potluck, and perfect with a side of grilled meat!

Honeydew or cantaloupe would also be a delicious substitute for watermelon, if you have that handy.

- Christine, August 2015

Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta

Serves 4 to 6

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of saffron, optional
2 or 3 medium limes, preferably organic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 to 2 teaspoons honey, depending on your preference
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup celery, cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices (about 1 stalk)

1/2 cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves, plus a few leaves for garnish
1/2 cup crumbled mild feta, preferably sheep’s milk

Add the water to a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the couscous, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the saffron, cover, and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl, spreading and fluffing the grains again. Set aside 
to cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, zest the limes until you have 2 teaspoons zest. Squeeze the fruit until you have 3 tablespoons juice. Place the zest and juice in a small screw-top jar and add the olive oil, honey, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Shake vigorously until the dressing is amalgamated.

Once the couscous has cooled, distribute the watermelon, celery, and mint across. Drizzle the dressing across and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that feta can be quite salty). If you have time, allow to sit for 30 minutes for flavors to meld.

To finish, toss again, top with the crumbled feta and the mint leaves for garnish, 
and drizzle with a touch more olive oil.

Recipe Notes

  • Make it ahead: You can prepare the salad — without adding the feta and mint for garnish — up to four hours ahead. Refrigerate, covered; when ready to serve, remove to take the chill out, then finish.
  • Make it gluten-free: About 2 1/2 cups cooked white quinoa is a fine replacement for the couscous.
  • A bit of saffron adds glamour to this lazy preparation, coloring your couscous
    with enticing golden flecks.

Reprinted with permission from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

(Image credit: Erin Kunkel)

Find Maria’s Latest Book:

Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well by Maria Speck

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