Last weekend our plan was to grill outside. And eat outside and play with the kids and eat dinner outside with a nice glass of wine… well, that was the plan, but it rained. All.Day.Long. It was so soggy and gloomy that we spent the whole day inside except for a few minutes of testing out my daughter’s rain boots in the puddles. But the rain didn’t stop us from grilling anyways. Especially since we had our new neighbors over and once we put out a promise to grill dinner for you, we will grill dinner for you. Rain or shine. The grill just gets wheeled under the covered patio, and away from the windows (yes, we set off the smoke alarm one day with this method…).
Somehow I always get stuck making the sides. I’m not really complaining because i kinda prefer cooking in the kitchen and not by the smoky grill, haha. What to make though? The regular grilling side staples are not my faves (no macaroni salad here!). Coleslaw was not a good fit with the nice skirt steak we were having, but if you ever need a fancier coleslaw recipe, check out my broccoli & red cabbage slaw. So what about potato salad? Nah, not today. Too heavy. Greek Salad? Hmmmm, now we’re talking. Crunchy, cool cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, fresh herbs and the salty, briny taste of feta cheese and kalamata olives are such a perfect combination of flavors and textures.
If you’re like me and you don’t like your salad dressing running into any of your other foods on the plate, then this Greek Salad recipe is perfect for you! Instead of Romaine lettuce as the base, I used whole grain couscous. This will make your salad into more of a “pilaf” like dish that leaves no runaway dressing on the plate!
Couscous is a great side dish that is super quick to make and versatile for any flavor profile – savory, sweet, or spicy. Go for the whole wheat version that only has one ingredient: (organic) whole grain durum wheat. This Mediterranean staple food cooks quickly and can be eaten warm or cold. Although it’s rich in fiber and selenium, it has less minerals than other whole grains such as brown rice, or amaranth. That said, don’t fill up on just couscous, but mix in some fresh veggies and herbs like in this Greek Style salad.
Here’s what you need for about 4-5 servings as a side:
1 cup whole grain couscous (dry)
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1/2 English cucumber, chopped in 1/2″ pieces (a little more than 1 cup)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup roughly chopped red onion
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped (or 1/2 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
10-12 kalamata olives, pitted, cut in half
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/3 of a lemon
salt & pepper to taste
In a medium sized pot, bring the water to a boil and add the salt and butter. Stir in the couscous and cook for 1 minute, then take off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork to make sure all the water was absorbed.
Transfer the warm couscous to a large bowl and set in the fridge to cool off while you prepare (chop) the rest of the ingredients:
Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, olives, feta, and fresh herbs to a large bowl. Season carefully with sea salt (I say carefully because the olives and feta cheese already bring a lot of salt to this dish), and fresh cracked pepper.
Add the olive oil, and lemon juice and stir to combine.
Once the couscous has cooled off to room temperature, add it to the bowl and fold it in with the other ingredients. Don’t overmix it so it doesn’t turn into mush.
That’s it! Enjoy with your favorite grilled fish, shrimp, or meats. Leftovers make an excellent lunch