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Couscous Salad with Saffron, Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

Tangy citrus, dried fruit and toasted pine nuts flavor this savory Middle Eastern salad. For a meatless picnic, pair it with roasted summer vegetables and a chopped cucumber salad. Or serve it alongside simple grilled fish or barbecued chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange 
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron threads 
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat couscous 
  • 1/3 cup thinly slivered dried apricots 
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint 
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Zest the orange to yield 1 tsp. grated zest. Juice the orange and reserve 1/4 cup juice.

In a dry fry pan over medium heat, shake the saffron threads until fragrant and a shade darker, about 1 minute. Transfer the saffron to a small bowl and, when cool, crumble with your fingertips.

Put the couscous in a large bowl, drizzle the olive oil on top and stir well to coat. Scatter the couscous with the apricots and raisins.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the saffron, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the cinnamon and pour over the couscous. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and let stand until the couscous is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Remove the foil and fluff the couscous grains well with a fork. Stir in the mint, pine nuts, orange zest, orange juice and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).