ROASTED TOMATO, WHITE BEAN and HARVEST GRAINS SALAD with CARAMELIZED ONION and FETA
As I learned this weekend, this dish will not be the standout star on the Sunday dinner buffet. I brought a generous bowl of this Pearl Cous Cous-based salad to my brother's house on Sunday, to celebrate Father's Day. Almost the whole bowl (minus my portion) came back home with me. I wasn't offended though. The crowd at Father's Day was also offered roasted chickens with gravy, stuffing and twice baked potatoes. The weather was dismally rainy bordering on monsoon outside. The kind of weather which makes you want to cozy up with something warm and a chilled side salad wasn't what this particular crowd was looking for. I would be lying if I didn't tell you my plate had a very small portion of this harvest grains business when compared with the amount of items smothered with gravy. It was Sunday, who cares?
I tossed this "salad" type option together out of solely what I had around the kitchen and I was convinced pretty much the whole time I was cooking it that the end result was going to be a disaster. I had just made/ ruined my breakfast and was feeling convinced that I was having a bad cooking day. Then the cous cous stuck to the bottom of the pan, yet was still chewy, and I kept alternately burning/chilling my onions, because my idiotic old stove has no med/low setting. Basically on my stove top there are two options: high and off. Only those with quick reflexes can properly caramelize onions. I persevered though and figured I would, at the very least, see the dish through to its completion. If I had to dump it in the trash eventually I would but I just didn't need to quit so soon. And then it started shaping up...
And I relaxed a little. But it didn't taste spectacular to me. This wasn't a stunning side right out of the gate. It's like the soup of salads, it has improved with age. It was okay on Sunday, very good with lunch on Monday and today I practically licked my bowl. It's healthy, filling and super cheap and I feel like it's a dish I could have on hand at all times because it's very versatile.
1/2 pckg. Trader Joe's Harvest Grains, or Pearl Cous Cous
(prepared according to package instructions- I use chicken broth)
1/2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
1 small glove garlic, minced
1/2 package, or about 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 can canellini beans
1/2 block feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. butter
S n' P
Preheat oven to 350. Toss the cherry tomatoes in a roasting dish with a drizzle of olive oil and balsalmic vinegar and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes until the tomatoes have burst. Give them a shake every now and then.
While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the Harvest Grains blend according to package instructions. I love the Trader Joe's blend of pearl cous cous, baby chickpeas, red quinoa and some other whole grain. It's a great alternative to rice and really easy to jazz up with whatever you want.
While the cous cous is cooking heat a skillet over med to med-low heat. Add enough oil to pan to coat and teaspoon of butter. Once butter is melted add onions and cook until caramelized (about 10-15 minutes). Leave the heat on low and add the white beans, just stir around a bit in order to coat the beans in the flavor of the caramelized onions. Remove from heat. Once the cous cous blend has absorbed all of its liquid and the grains are cooked through, remove from heat, combine with the onion and white bean mixture followed by the roasted tomatoes, including any drippings in the roasting pan. Crumble feta cheese on top and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and balsalmic vinegar and toss everything together to coat. I served mine with a little fresh chopped basil on top. Serve warm or cold. I prefer cold.