Today I’m gonna show you how to make one of my very, very favorite summer meals. Maybe THAT will usher in some warmer weather to Minneapolis, because at this point I’m willing to try anything.
I originally got this recipe from Jamie Oliver (my very favorite celebrity chef). When Jamie (Plesser, my husband) and I lived in Miami, we were newlyweds, we knew almost no one in town and we had no live music to keep us entertained. So we watched Mr. Oliver on TV constantly and I can easily say he mostly (the rest of FoodTV a little) taught us how to cook back in 2001.
Anyway! We found this recipe once moving to Minnesota and we make huge bowls of it each summer. The fresh herbs and veggies taste spectacular, and it’s a favorite when we head to the cabin as well. So here’s the recipe. I know it seems a touch tedious, but it is worth every minute.
First! You’ll need:
• A rotisserie chicken (we peel the meat from 1-2 of the breasts)
• 9 oz cous cous
• 1 1/3 cups cold water
• 3 large red bell peppers (we always wish we’d added a 4th — be warned)
• 1 handful asparagus (I like the tiny ones)
• 2-3 zucchini or yellow summer squash (or both)
• 1 small bunch of scallions
• dried red pepper flakes to taste
• 3 huge handfuls of mixed fresh herbs. We use cilantro, chives and basil, Oliver also suggests mint or parsley
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• Fresh juice from 1/2 lemon (squeeze it ALL out)
• Salt and pepper to taste (I think this should be seasoned pretty heavily)
• Dash of red wine vinegar
OK. Got all that? The very first thing you’re going to do is get a great, big bowl and put the cous cous and the cold water in it. While you’re cooking the rest, the grains will soak up the water just perfect.
The next thing you’re going to do is place your red peppers directly over the flame on your gas oven (or the grill outside — everything here can be grilled). You want each side of the peppers blackened, so just keep turning them until they look all burnt and crispy.
When done, put them in a bowl like so, and then immediately cover them with plastic wrap for about 5 minutes until they cool. The plastic wrap is key.
While your peppers are cooling, slice up your zucchini and begin grilling it and the asparagus. Since it’s still freezing in Minnesota and I’m doing all of this on the stove top, I use a grill pan (no oil or anything) and just use high heat and keep flipping the veggies. You want them all cooked, but not overdone. Also, I have to do them in batches because my pan isn’t big enough.
While the other veggies are cooking, run the now cooled peppers under cold water and peel the skin right off. Mmmmm…. You also want to remove the core of the pepper and the seeds at this point as well.
Once your veggies are all cooked, dice ’em up! And dice up that red pepper as well. And dice up that chicken. And dice up those herbs. It’s like a big chop salad.
Mix all the magic into the bowl with the cous cous (which will have soaked up the water by now). Pretty, no?
Then stir in the olive oil, seasonings (including red pepper flakes), lemon juice and vinegar. At this point, I start tasting the salad and making adjustments. It seems to *always* need more salt than what I put in, but as we know, I like things salty.
And voila! Serve it out of the fridge or at room temperature. Perfect for luncheons or office pot lucks (or just to hoard to yourself). This makes 8 generous servings and 10 medium servings. If you’re going with 8 servings, it’s 331 calories (the plate above is not a generous serving, fyi).
For your internet share of the day, how about this amazing close-up photo of one drop of ocean water. Look at that little crab larva!