Thursday, January 8, 2009

Couscous, Fennel and Cannolini Bean Salad

Ok folks, I know I haven't posted in a long time, nor answered emails, messages or even read other peoples' blogs. As we know this is a constant problem with me. After my last post on December 11 I was plunged into the heady chaos of final exams in statistics, final project papers in statistics, final qualifying exams in Anthropology and a general haze of academic overload through Monday the 15th of December, when my PhD applications were due, my qualifying Anthropology paper was due and my statistics final took place. After which I had 48 hours to buy Christmas presents and get on a plane for Belize.

But this is all far in the past now. I am returned, relaxed and refreshed after two weeks of cloudy, rainy, but at least WARM weather and time spent in the company of my wonderful family, eating black fruitcake, drinking rum and reading Terry Pratchett novels out loud to each other. I begin my final semester of graduate school on Monday, but for now, I am relatively undisturbed by work, stress or paper writing.

So I thought I really should post about this awesome salad, which I mentioned about 2 months ago but never got around to writing about in detail. This salad combines quick cooking whole wheat couscous with cannolini beans, frisee, tomato, red onion, a touch of fennel, feta cheese, lemon juice and olive oil to create a light but filling salad that makes a meal or a delicious side. With the beans and feta you get plenty of protein, whole grains with the couscous and a nice large serving of vegetables.

Frankly this salad is a late summer creation, best made when frisee and fennel have appeared in the market, but tomatoes are still lingering on before the first frost. But you can make it anytime and vary the ingredients to taste. The frisee is not strictly necessary although it adds a nice touch to the plate, and the fennel can be omitted if desired although I think it adds an important note of flavour to the whole dish.

Couscous, Fennel and Cannolini Bean Salad

Makes about two good sized servings. About 580 calories for the whole salad, 290 per serving.

1-1/2 cup cooked whole wheat couscous

1 cup cooked white northern (cannolini) beans (you may use canned, but make sure to rinse them well)

1 ounce fat free feta cheese ( Or more to taste. I use fat free feta, but if you aren't watching your saturated fat intake feel free to use partial or full fat feta cheese.)

1/2 ounce (about two tbsp) finely minced red onion (or more to taste)

1/2 ounce (2-3 tbsp) finely minced fresh fennel bulb

Several leaves of frisee for serving, plus about half a cup finely chopped for the salad. (optional)

1 small/medium ripe tomato, about 2.5 ounces

1/2 to 1 tsp olive oil (may use more to taste)

juice and zest of 1/2 large lemon or 1 small lemon (may need more juice to taste)

salt and pepper to taste


1. Mince onion, fennel and frisee if using. Finely chop the ripe tomato.

2. Toss cooked couscous, beans, and feta cheese together with the olive oil, lemon zest and juice.

3. Gently stir in the onion, fennel, frisee and tomato. Taste, add salt and pepper and more lemon juice/olive oil as desired.

4. Serve on a bed of frisee.


Cynthia said...

The life of a student is really hectic isn't it. Glad you had a relaxing time at home.

Lyra said...

Thanks Cynthia, it was nice to be there.

Daniel said...

Hi Lyra, and nice to have you back! Ditto on what Cynthia said--and I'm glad you're back posting again.

I always look forward to your creative recipes!

Casual Kitchen