Lamb and Couscous Salad

Lamb and couscous salad

Those who have followed this blog know that my husband and I have been on vacation in the Pacific Northwest and the eastern Sierras. Well….we’re finally home. And what a shock! We went from 70 degrees in the mountains to just below 90 degrees upon arrival in Orange County.

Yup, it’s definitely summer here in Southern California. Much too warm for any hot entrees. So this weekend, I put together a cold main dish that’s filling and easy to make. Got it from the New York Times, a dependable source of tried and true recipes. Their lamb and couscous salad can be assembled on the weekend, and the leftovers are perfect for a portable brown bag meal.

If you don’t like lamb or cannot get it this time of year, pre-cooked roasted chicken works equally well.

LAMB AND COUSCOUS SALAD (6 servings)

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound cooked lamb or chicken, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped

1.Combine the couscous and raisins in a large bowl. Pour 1 1/4 cups boiling water over the mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

2.In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.

3.Add the meat, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, mint and green onions to the bowl of couscous. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss well. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if necessary.

Eat at room temperature or chill in the frig before consuming. The portion you see in the photograph is garnished with hard boiled egg and calamata olive slices.

Brown Bagging on the Road: High Sierras, California

Barney Lake, Eastern Sierras, California

Over the last several weeks, my husband and I have travelled all the way from Southern California to Canada, then back south to the Eastern Sierras. We are currently camping at Mono Village above the small town of Bridgeport, off Hwy. 395. Here’s a photo of some meadows below our camp. As you can see, the wild irises are in bloom.

Cow pastures below Mono Village camp site.

There are great opportunities for hiking, fishing, and just taking some nice walks at Mono Village, which is right next to Twin Lakes.

Upper Twin Lake

I make a point of walking the area every morning. To not do so would be forfeiting the wonderful gift of seeing things like this on a daily basis:

Creek near our campsite

Let me get to the food portion of this post. My husband, an experienced RV camp guy, is also a fine cook. Using both his crockpot and grill, Pete has produced many delicious meals at camp.

One day, we decided to have a cold dinner. We’d just gotten our provisions at Von’s supermarket in Bishop, which is about 2 hours south of the campsite, and Pete didn’t really want to cook. Here’s a photo of what we ate:

Roast beef and horseradish sandwich, cold baked beans, deli cucumber-tomato salad

That’s right, cold baked beans. And they were surprisingly good! This dish is easy to make and a convenient, transportable item for a brown bag lunch. Here’s the recipe:

PETE’S COLD BAKED BEANS (3-4 small servings)

  • One 16 oz. can Bush’s vegetarian baked beans
  • One tsp. prepared mustard

Mix beans and mustard together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for three minutes. Let beans cool and then chill in the frig for an hour or two.

The Bush’s Beans website shows the following nutritional data for 1/2 cup portion:

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 0
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 29 grams
  • Sodium: 550 mg.
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Iron: 10%

The website also indicates that this product is gluten-free.

Brown Bagging on the Road: Vancouver Island, Canada

Tropical greenhouse garden, Buchart Gardens, Vancouver Island

I took this photo during our visit to Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. Here are some additional photos of the greenhouse garden:

So: Today’s brown bag recipe is another offering from our Vancouver Island hostess, Gail Bishop. Edamame (Japanese green soy beans) can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. The beans are tasty and filled with high-quality protein.

Try this edamame salad with teriyaki chicken or salmon. You can also serve it as a vegan entree.

EDAMAME, RED PEPPER, AND CORN SALAD (4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. Sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. Toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup diced sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained

In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and garlic until blended. Stir in edamame, red pepper and corn.

Brown Bagging on the Road: Vancouver Island, Canada

Koi pond at Bear Mountain Golf Course and Resort near Victoria, B.C.

Pete and I had a nice time at the Bear Mountain Gold Course and Resort near Victoria. Here’s a photo showing some of the golf course:

Part of Bear Mountain golf course. So green!

I started this post off with a photo of the koi pond because today’s recipe will be a bit “fishy”: an aromatic, lemony shrimp salad. I obtained the recipe from our host, Gail Bishop, who in turn pulled it from her copy of “Contest Winning Annual Recipes 2005.” And I promise this truly is a winner; it’s delicious. I would suggest making a big batch on the weekend for appetizers or a light brunch entree. For a weekday brown bag lunch, pair some of the leftovers with vegetable sushi purchased at your local supermarket deli. Or perhaps some nice French sourdough bread spread with butter.

Gail cooked her own shrimp, but you can purchase pre-cooked shrimp at the meat counter, or use frozen thawed cooked shrimp.

MARINATED SHRIMP (14 small servings)

  • 2 pounds cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into rings
  • 2 medium lemons, cut into very thin slices
  • 1 cup pitted ripe olives
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespooons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.In a 3-quart glass serving bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, lemons and olives. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients; shake well. Pour over shrimp mixture and stir gently to coat.

2.Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Brown Bagging on the Road: Vancouver Island, Canada

Looking over Juan de Fuca Strait at Washington, U.S.A. Location: Steve and Gail’s home at Vancouver Island.

Those who have followed this blog over the past few weeks know that my husband Pete and I have been driving north through the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, we took the Port Angeles ferry to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Sailing into Victoria, British Columbia. Parliament building in background.

We proceeded to my husband’s uncle’s home, which is located in the verdant hills above Sookie. It’s a home-and-garden phenomenon, with lovely flowers everywhere and a koi pond.

Foxglove
Koi pond

Uncle Steve and Aunt Gail furnished us with wonderful breakfasts and dinners. Below is a simple recipe from Gail that would be great for a side dish in a brown bag meal. Yes, I know….dill and strawberries? A strange combo. But trust me. It tastes great. Delicious with a ham or turkey sandwich.

SPINACH-STRAWBERRY SALAD

  • Baby spinach (can be found bagged in the produce section of most mainstream supermarkets)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Four fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice*

Place first three ingredients in a plastic container. Place last two ingredients in a separate container. Pour onto salad at lunchtime.

*A bottled vinaigrette will work in place of the oil and lemon juice mixture.

Brown Bagging on the Road: Portland, Oregon

Hot pastrami sandwich with sauerkraut

My husband and I are on a road trip from California to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Yesterday, we made it to Portland, Oregon.

We’re both fans of Guy Fierri’s TV show, “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.” With that in mind, we decided to visit one of Fierri’s Portland favorites, Otto’s Deli and Sausage Kitchen.

Otto’s is located across the Williamette River in East Portland. The neighborhood is older and dotted with 20th century craftsman homes. Lots of lovely trees, shrubs, and flowers: Irises, roses, snapdragons, and much more.

Otto’s is not a large place, but it’s chock full of delicious, German-based product: A large sausage counter, a deli section, and a selection of delicious wines and German beers. We decided to forgo the beer. Instead, we both had pastrami and sauerkraut sandwiches. They were delicious!

Otto’s Logo: A running pig
Otto’s sausage counter
Otto’s pastrami and sauerkraut toasted sandwich (The “Dakota Boy”)

Brown Bagging on the Road: Bishop, California

Roast beef sandwich with broccoli slaw and Saffron Road Chickpea chips

In a previous post, I wrote that my husband and I are driving up the coast to Canada. Our first stop was Bishop, California, which is east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Although it’s heading towards summer here, there is still plenty of snow on the mountains. Below is a photo of a Bishop alfalfa field. Gorgeous!

Alfalfa field with Sierra Nevada in background

We went for groceries at the Vons in Bishop and decided to purchase a cold lunch: Dietz & Watson roast beef sandwich with cheese at the sandwich counter, and some broccoli slaw with red onion and raisins at the deli. But I also had a hankering for something salty and crunchy and headed for the snack aisle.

I selected a bag of Saffron Road Chickpea chips from a plethora of chip choices. As a rule, I don’t eat chips very often because they have little nutritional benefit and are basically empty calories. At my age, I have to watch for that if I want to keep my “girlish figure,” haha! However, I noted that this product, a combination of lentils, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, cornmeal, and peas, contained 4 grams of protein, which is pretty good for chips. The Saffron Road chips are baked and not fried, and they don’t contain any saturated fat. And for my gluten-sensitive readers, this product is advertised as gluten-free.

And they taste pretty good!

Below are nutrition facts for Saffron Road Chickpea chips. You can also find them at Sprouts Market.