One of the things I do at my work is organize events. Parties, workshops, seminars, lunches etc. It's actually the part I love the most. My first major event I planned was the opening of a new unit at the university for which I am a part of - the Research Training Group. Especially created to develop the engineering faculty in their different fields. It's a big thing for the university as the group is being funded with a lot of money.
As you can imagine the party was to be on a large scale too. In the process of the last weeks I met a lovely French lady who I hired to cater for the gala dinner last Friday. She and her husband run a gorgeous new French Bistro here in Weimar. The minute I met her we hit it on so well. I knew from day one that I wanted her to cater for our event. We spent hours discussing our food obsessions and passions and what started out as work has turned into a lovely friendship. She is in her mid 50s and a charming lady full of zest and spirit. The funny thing was we both complemented each other so well. She knew in an instance what I had in mind and I could relate to all her suggestions. Each tiny detail was perfectly organized - right down to the decorations. I wanted something summery in the Provence feeling, natural and not over the top, she brought a car load of lavender, lime and baskets of fresh fruit. The food was elegant but light the desserts spectacular.
One thing we both realized was our penchant for the Mediterranean kitchen. She said it's what she too grew up on as France is heavily influenced by the cuisine of Algeria and Morocco, so there too we found our similarities. We both agreed couscous in any way was something we could have anytime and everywhere. To mark our new found friendship she wanted to make a statement and suggested a couscous salad for the buffet. I agreed instantly.
Funny how things are - I was planning a couscous salad the minute Mansi announced the theme to this month's Monthly Mingle - Appetizers and Hors D'oeuvres. So I too am dedicating this to Elizabeth - a new friend!
Printable version of recipe here.
1 cucumber, chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
1 large ripe tomato, de-seeded and chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 large bunch mint, chopped
1 large bunch flat leaved parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkling of sumac
Salt and pepper
Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. Set aside to cool.
In the meantime toss the vegetables with the herbs and the garlic, if using, in a large bowl. Add the juice and zest of the lime and olive oil. Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients. Finally add the couscous and gently fold in. Salt and pepper to taste. Taste the salad and add more lime juice or oil according to your taste.
Set aside for at least half an hour in the fridge to cool and for all the flavors to infuse with each other. Serve with a good sprinkling of sumac and garlic pita bread or in a large bowl for your party buffet.
Couscous in any way! I love it and the fact that it is one healthy grain is an added benefit. Making a salad like this for a party, a get-together or a barbecue is ideal because it's so easy to put together and can be made an evening in advance. A different type of salad that everyone will love. It can be varied in several ways. I often like adding some red lentils to the whole salad for a lovely texture, or crispy sautéed onions on top.
The gala dinner was a hit - the sad thing was the Professor (one of my two bosses) thanked me, for all the perfect organization and helping to make the opening such a success, in front of the big time guests attending the event - and I missed the speech because I was busy setting up the buffet! Thanks to Tom and several friends (who all work at the university) I was told many times what was said. I was in seventh heaven!
I would also like to send this entry to Siri of Siri's Corner who is hosting this months session of A Worldly Epicurean's Delight (A.W.E.D)created by the lovely Dhivya. This month's theme Middle Eastern Cuisine. How can I miss that!
More couscous ideas you might enjoy on WFLH:
I have almost 1000 posts in my reader that I need to catch up on, there are several mails I need to answer and I know I have a challenge to execute and plan! But folks you'll excuse me for just a bit longer - summer and soccer has gripped Europe and after Germany's win over Poland last night the party is on! I miss you all!
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First