It was a dark and stormy night getting late in the evening and I had no motivation (or inspiration) to make dinner. So I started scrolling through this Whole Foods app thingie to try to get ideas and came across this (not vegan) recipe that used pearl (aka Israeli) couscous. I thought to myself—Hmm, I think I’ve got a jar of that in the pantry somewhere and I haven’t had couscous in awhile. Not a huge fan of tiny couscous, but I love this bigger pearl couscous because it tastes more like pasta. Which I guess it kinda is. Wait, what is couscous??? Oh, ok. It is basically tiny pasta balls. Cool. Thanks Wikipedia.
Couscous seemed simple enough. I decided to just cook up the couscous and mix it with whatever veggies we had and some olive oil, salt and pepper. When I took stock of our produce situation I realized we had peaches that needed to be eaten along with a bag of king trumpet shrooms. Ok, if I was gonna have the king trumpets they had to be grilled like last time because they were delicious that way. And since I had the grill pan out, I decided I might as well grill the peaches too. Then I realized I had way more peaches than I needed to grill so it only made sense to use the extra peaches to make sauce to go over everything.
And that’s the story of how a “well ya gotta eat” meal turned into a “blog about it” kind of meal.
I loved this salad because it wasn’t really a salad. It struck a nice balance between crisp freshness and grilled savory-ness all enveloped in summer sweetness thanks to those Georgia peaches!
Pearl Couscous Salad with Grilled Peaches
1 1/3 cup pearl couscous
1 3/4 cup veggie stock
1 chopped cucumber
2 whole peaches for the sauce + 4 sliced peaches for grilling
Toast the dry couscous with 1 tbs of olive oil in a small pot on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Parts of the couscous should get golden in color.
Add in the veggie stock, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes until the broth is absorbed and couscous is tender.
Throw the cooked couscous in a large bowl with the cucumber and toss it with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
For the sauce, throw the garlic cloves and the 2 whole peaches (pits removed) into a blender along with a small drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Blend. Taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Blend again. Continue blending in small amounts of olive oil, maple syrup, salt and/or pepper until you get desired consistency and balance between savory and sweet. Set aside.
Grill the 4 sliced peaches along with the king trumpet mushrooms.
Put everything together by layering the grilled peaches and mushrooms on the couscous salad and pouring the peach sauce on top. Top with the green onions for presentation and taste!
I like raw food. I do. But sometimes when I eat a raw dish, I think—hmmm, this would taste reeeeally good if it were hot! Like temperature-hot, not Shakira-hot because I’ve eaten some pretty sexy raw dishes before. I’ve made this sundried tomato and basil manicotti (*see footnote) from VegNews in its intended raw format in the past, but this time around I decided to forgo nearly slicing my fingers with a sharp knife trying to get thin zucchini noodles and just make baked stuffed zucchini boats.
I made the sundried tomato and basil cashew cheese as-is and stuffed them in the zucchini. I also made the raw marinara as-is except I chopped up the scooped-out zucchini insides and stirred it in. I simmered the marinara until the zucchini was cooked and then I poured it over the stuffed zucchini and baked everything covered in foil for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
I had no clue how this would come out because I’ve never tried baking a raw dish. While the zucchini baked, I kept thinking—this is so wrong, what am I doing?? But my apprehensions were unfounded because the dish came out creamy-dreamy delicious! The filling was just as full of sundried tomato-basil flavor as it was raw. The marinara was rich and tomato-y and the zucchini was nice and tender with a subtle bite. All the individual components melded nicely as a result of the baking.
* To get to the actual recipe, scroll down until you see “raw manicotti”. The recipe calls for 4 zucchinis and I only had 2 so I had sauce and cheese leftover.
I had leftover guacamole from my nacho-tempeh-bacon-guac sandwiches and I knew if I didn’t eat it all quickly, it would start turning blackish in color despite my attempts to keep it from air.
Guacamole that has turned darker due to oxidation is not inedible but let’s face it, bright green guacamole is way more appetizing. So why not disguise it?
I got this idea from Epicurean Vegan who mixed mashed avocados with rice and beans. I didn’t have rice so instead I mixed my leftover guacamole with a cooked combo of white and dark quinoa. Then I stirred in left over diced tomatoes with green chilis (from a can) and some salt and pepper to taste.
Then, I topped it with some black beans, sour cream and green onions. Since the guacamole was already made and full of flavor, this dish could not have been simpler. This kept in the fridge for several days and the guacamole kept on looking awesomely appetizing due to its quinoa disguise!
Peachy-pineapple pico de gallo + avocado = get in mah belly.
For the pico de gallo (approximations, because I hate cleaning measuring spoons):
two roma tomatoes deseeded
3 pineapple rings
2-3 stalks of celery
small red onion
handful of cilantro
at least 2-3 tbs of lime juice (probably a bit more)
salt to taste
I chopped up all the produce, threw in the lime juice and salt and stirred it all up.
I then put two avocado halves in a bowl, threw some chopped lettuce on it and piled on the pico de gallo making sure to dribble its yummy juices over everything.
There was plenty of pico de gallo left over. Some ways to use the leftover pico de gallo for other good eats might be to scoop it up with tortilla chips, eat another raw-vocado salad, mix it with black beans and eat it that way or use it as a taco topping.
We grilled up some tomatoes, asparagus and polenta. The tomatoes and asparagus were lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and some lemon juice while we slightly carmelized the polenta slices. I love meals like this.