I have been inspired by a salad that I bought at Trader Joe’s which I have been taking to work for the last few months. It is a lettuce based salad with chicken and Israeli Couscous. Now, I had never tried Israeli couscous before but I was quickly won over by it’s chewy pasta-like texture. So I scoured the supermarket aisles looking for this stuff and found it in the Kosher section of Vons with the Matzo. What do you know, it says on the package that it’s a toasted pasta, so you really could replace the couscous here with orzo or some other small pasta if you don’t have Israeli couscous available to you.
This is also a pretty versatile salad, you could certainly bring it to a potluck or a picnic since you can make it in advance and refrigerate it. It keeps pretty well.
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup uncooked Israeli Couscous (or other small pasta)
1 apple diced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles (hey: by all means if you hate blue cheese a good substitute is feta here, or you could leave it out altogether)
1/2 loosely packed basil
1/3 cup olive oil
* if you have a prepared pesto on hand (like my pesto which I mentioned you should freeze) this can sub for the last two items on the shopping list.
1. This is pretty simple here. Boil the couscous or pasta as the directions on the box indicate, no need to add salt to your water, we’ll add that later. These little pastas take less than 10 minutes to boil, so stay in the room or set a timer, guys.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor whirl your basil and oil together. Or skip this step if you have already prepared pesto. If you buy the stuff at the store, look for oil and pesto as the first two ingredients. And make sure you get it from the refrigerated section. It’s got less additives that way.
3. When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss it in a serving bowl with the pesto. Make sure that the pesto coats all the pasta well.
4. Then dump in your apples, walnuts, cranberries and chicken.
5. Plate it up and sprinkle about 1-2 teaspoons blue cheese on each plate. In the picture above I served it with romaine lettuce leaves to make my lunch feel spa-y. The great thing about this salad is that it’s great at room temperature or cold. So bring it to a potluck or stash it in your work fridge for a hearty lunch.
Makes: 4 lunches or 8 side dishes