Monday, June 25, 2007

Potluck Classic: CousCous & Black Bean Salad

I've had two potluck events in the last week. I love the idea of a potluck, and never cease to be amazed at the way in which something that isn't planned can result in so much harmony. Even if 3 people bring the same sort of salad, all 3 will have a twist that sets it apart from the others.

I have one go-to dish that I like to bring to such affairs. It's usually the only one of it's kind on the table, it's delicious and it literally takes maybe 7 minutes to put together. Yesterday, for example, I was totally occupied with other things leading up to a 2pm party and I made this at 1:30, just before I had to leave the house.

When I was a kid and reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books, I came across the description of a church potluck. When the family left the party Ma's dishes were empty and Pa said something about it being a credit to her cooking. I've always held that in mind and feel inordinately pleased when I cart home an empty dish. Which I did this week. Twice.

Couscous and Black Bean Salad

1 c. whole wheat couscous
1 c. boiling water
1 red pepper
1 c. frozen corn
1 tin black beans
1/4 c. cilantro
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Put the couscous in a serving dish and pour the boiling water over it. Cover the dish with a plate.
Seed and dice the red pepper.

Drain and gently rinse the black beans in a colander. Shake off excess water.

Rough chop the cilantro.

By the time you've assembled the other ingredients the couscous will be done. Fluff the grains with a fork and add the pepper, beans, corn and cilantro. Toss to combine.

Sprinkle the salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, add a pinch of salt and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings.

(I didn't give you a measurement for the vinegar and oil because I honestly don't know how much I put in. My oil and balsamic live in matching Eiffel Tower bottles with pour tops. See?

I just drizzle each over the top of the salad, from one end of the dish to the other and that's usually enough. (Maybe a Tablespoon or so?) Then I taste it and if necessary, I just sploosh on a bit more. Trust your tastebuds.)

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