Now that it’s officially fall, it’s time for me to share this delectable seasonal side dish: Harvest Couscous Salad with Spicy Maple Vinaigrette. It’s full of fall-ish flavors and different textures and has a subtle kick of spice. And it’s healthy!
I used pearl couscous for this recipe. It’s a larger version of traditional couscous and I love the texture. I kept the dish vegetarian by preparing it with a vegetarian “chick’n” bouillon cube for added flavor. In the meantime, I prepped the veggies. I cut up and seasoned a peeled sweet potato and roasted it for 12 minutes in a 375 degree oven. I sliced up a fennel bulb, leaving the chunks kind of big. I sliced up a shallot and chopped a bunch of kale into smallish pieces.
I sautéed the shallot and fennel in a little bit of olive oil with some salt and pepper. When the fennel had just started to become tender, I added the kale. It always seems like too much kale, but it cooks down quickly. While the veggies were cooking, I prepped the rest of the add-ins: dried cranberries, the sweet potatoes, chopped walnuts, and crumbly gorgonzola cheese.
The dressing takes this dish over the top. It’s a simple vinaigrette made with maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, olive oil, and a dash of cayenne pepper for heat. I shook all of the ingredients together in a little jam jar. The result is a delicious spicy-sweet-tangy dressing. It would be yummy on any green salad, too.
When the couscous was done, I scooped it into a big bowl and added the sautéed shallot, fennel, and kale. I dumped in most of the add-ins, mixing it carefully. I saved some of the gorgonzola and walnuts to sprinkle on top. Look at the textures and colors!
Last, I added the vinaigrette. I started with half of it and gave it a taste; I ended up using almost the whole jar of dressing. It’s up to you how much you like.
We enjoyed the couscous salad with some tasty black bean burgers on a week night, but it’s totally appropriate for an autumn dinner party or even a holiday table. Scrumptious, flavorful, and good for you.
What’s your favorite seasonal side dish? Share with me!
Harvest Couscous Salad with Spicy Maple Vinaigrette
- 1 cup dried couscous
- 1 ¼ cup water or broth
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup gorgonzola or bleu cheese crumbles
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more for heat)
- Pinch salt and pepper
Prepare the couscous by simmering it in the water or broth according to package directions. In a small bowl, combine the chopped sweet potato with a swirl of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes and set aside. Sauté the shallots and fennel over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil. When the fennel is starting to soften, add the kale and cook down. When the couscous is done, combine it in a large bowl with the kale/fennel mixture, the sweet potatoes, most of the walnuts and gorgonzola, and the cranberries.
To make the dressing, combine the ingredients into a lidded jar and shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the couscous salad, starting with half and adding more dressing to your taste preference. Serve with a casual dinner or a holiday feast. Cheers to fall flavors. Yum!
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