Israeli Couscous Salad

Couscous SaladSo I first had a version of this salad at a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. The woman who made it was one of my favourite Rebbitzens growing up, Mrs. Dassi Smolarcik. Subsequently, she and her family moved to Miami, (my Rebbitzen, not my sister-in-law…. my s-i-l moved to Savannah!), but what is Canada’s loss is Florida’s gain. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, but I’m sure Mrs. Smo will forgive me. I suggest making this for your next meal, dairy or meat, where you’d like a nice, light salad in the mix. This recipe will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4-5 radishes, sliced thin*
4-5 green onions, sliced thin*
1 can of corn kernels, drained
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine*
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped fine*

Dressing:

½ cup oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper (more or less to taste)

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs and vegetables.

Instructions:

Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package. Drain, and set aside to cool. Combine the cooled couscous, along with the prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Prepare the dressing in a small container and combine well, tasting for flavour. Once you are happy with it, pour it over the couscous salad and mix well to combine. This salad is best if let to sit covered in the refrigerator to marinate, preferably overnight. If you preparing it the day before, you may wish to leave the tomatoes out until about an hour before serving, so they don’t get soft.

Sausage & Chicken Jambalaya

Sausage & Chicken JambalayaThis one dish meal is great for a weeknight, and can be made as spicy or mild as you like. You can use any type of sausage that you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! This recipe will makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
¾ pound sausage, sliced into rounds
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (398ml) can crushed Italian tomatoes
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 ¼ cups uncooked white rice
3 cups chicken broth

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Sauté sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. A lot of oil will naturally render when you are cooking the sausage, so you can use this very flavourful oil to now cook the chicken pieces in. If you find that you don’t have enough oil from cooking the sausages, you can always add a bit more oil to the pan. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté them until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

In the same pot, sauté onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, thyme, basil and oregano. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Serve hot!

Tandoori Spice Blend

Tandoori Spice BlendTandoori masala (masala means spice blend) is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.

Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes as tandoori chicken. In this dish, the chicken is covered with a mixture of plain yogourt and tandoori masala. The chicken is then roasted in the tandoor at very high heat. The chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-coloured exterior and a savoury flavor. For you kosher readers out there, try making this dish using non-dairy yogourt or water down some non-dairy sour cream to get a yogourt like consistency.

Other chicken dishes, in addition to tandoori chicken, use this masala, such as tikka or butter chicken, most of them Punjabi dishes. Meat other than chicken can be used, as can paneer (paneer is a homemade pressed cheese made out of curdled milk).

If freshly prepared, the masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to two months. The spice blend is also readily available at larger supermarkets and specialty Asian stores, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: If your saffron is really fresh and doesn’t crumble easily, toast it in a dry skillet over medium heat until dark red. Cool; then crumble.