It’s the middle of August already, and summer is heading into its final stretch. I don’t know where the time went, but here we are. Scratch that. I totally know where the time went. Into baking cookies! If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you know that I’ve been super busy making cookies to sell at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. And sell I have! The last few weekends I’ve been sold out completely, which makes me very happy. I love baking cookies and I love that my fellow Saskatonians love eating them! I have managed to escape from my kitchen here and there for a few days at a stretch, so my summer hasn’t been all the cookie dough all of the time. But it’s close!
When my days are busy with the butter, sugar, and flour, I need quick lunches to keep me energized for all of that cookie scooping. Like this Black Bean and Couscous Salad! Couscous is a treasure to have in your cupboard as it literally cooks in under 10 minutes, and you can toss it with anything to make wonderful salads and side dishes. While you’re reaching for the couscous, grab that can of black beans while you’re at it. Beans, whether they’re dried or canned, are always in my pantry. Having them there means that easy salads like this are possible. I know the black beans not only add loads of nutrition to this salad, but they also make it a more substantial meal which will ultimately be more satisfying. Black beans are so versatile and nutritious, they’re one of the best things to have stocked in your cupboards. Protein-packed and high in fibre, beans can be used in all sorts of recipes for dips and spreads, stews and chili, salads and pasta, heck even smoothies and brownies! Ontario is a hub of bean production in Canada, with over 1200 farmers growing eight types of beans. Most of these (80-90%) will be exported around the world. Beans are super rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and they’re inexpensive to buy. Beans check all of the boxes. And they taste so good! For this hearty salad, you can take a shortcut and use canned black beans, or you can cook dried black beans.
The mild flavour of the couscous and black beans is punctuated by roasted sweet potato, kale, feta cheese, toasted almonds, and red onion. So many healthful and delicious ingredients are packed into this hearty salad. It’s a super food city! The real kicker is the punchy vinaigrette, which balances everything out quite nicely. Vibrant and herbaceous, it takes the flavour up a notch, and I daresay the salad tastes better after it’s left to chill in the fridge for an hour or two. This is a super salad you can pack into jars and take on picnics, pool-side lunches or wherever the last of the summer days take you.
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
- 1 can (16 oz/540 mL) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups chopped kale (be sure to remove the stems first)
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
Basil Lime Dressing:
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potato cubes, oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Scrape onto the baking sheet and roast, turning once for about 25-30 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
While the sweet potato roasts, pour the broth into a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cover and let stand for another 5 minutes. Transfer the couscous to the same bowl you tossed the sweet potato in and let cool completely.
Prepare the Basil Lime Dressing: In a mini (or big) food processor, add all of the ingredients. Process until smooth.
Add the roasted sweet potato, black beans, kale, feta, almonds, and red onion to the bowl of couscous. Pour in the dressing. Toss to thoroughly combine. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, or lime juice. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before serving.
Instead of kale, use spinach or arugula.