It's easy to make a vegetable-centric salad into a satisfying meal by adding beans, grains, nuts, or seeds. Or if you want to get really serious, all of the above. And for a special garnish, take those often discarded scallion tops, crust them in a luscious blend of sesame seeds and almonds, and bake them into crispy little strips. Add a creamy peanut dressing, and salad for dinner is something to look forward to. Good enough to serve friends, even.
If you hadn't already noticed, this salad is no joke: hefty enough for those with higher calorie needs or just the thing for a nourishing, energizing dinner on those days you barely grabbed lunch. But note that if your appetite isn't quite as large, the calories are easily adjusted down by reducing the couscous by half, and you'll still have a meal-sized salad on your hands.
The dressing makes more than needed for this amount of salad, and will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. It's good on everything. And of course, feel free to blend up a batch in advance so you have one less thing to do when you go to make your meal.
The mix of freshly chopped and softer cooked elements, a healthy dose of herbs, a small pepper for heat--in short, the variety of colors, flavors, and textures will keep you loving this bowl to the very end.
If you're new to handling a knife, just go slowly, and don't worry too much about presentation. (Our julienne is frequently closer to baton and never less tasty for it.)
The Seriously Serious Salad with Sesame-Crusted Scallions and Peanut Dressing
serves 2 generously (see note in post)
For the dressing:
3/4 cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 TBSP reduced-sodium tamari
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP lime juice
1 TBSP mustard powder
1/2 TBSP turbinado
1/2-inch knob peeled fresh ginger, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup water
For the scallions:
2 TBSP hulled sesame seeds
2 TBSP unsalted almonds
1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
3 TBSP chickpea flour
3 TBSP water
8-10 scallion tops, from 4 scallions
For the salad:
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 cup dried couscous
1 head romaine, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch strips
4 scallions, white and tender green parts (tops reserved for garnish), very thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
1 cucumber, seeded and julienned (peeled, if desired)
4 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped (or substitute flat-leaf parsley)
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped (or less, to taste)
1 avocado, pitted, skinned, and sliced
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
To prepare the dressing, add all ingredients to a half-quart jar and blend with an immersion blender until smooth, a minute or two (or use a standard blender). Set aside.
Heat oven to 375.
To prepare the scallions, use a coffee grinder to grind sesame seeds and almonds into a meal. Add salt, pulse to combine, and transfer to a pie plate.
In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together chickpea flour and water. Individually, dip the scallions into the chickpea mix, scraping each side along the edge of the bowl to release excess batter. Press both sides into the sesame-almond meal, shake off excess, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and toasted, being careful not to brown (read: burn) them, about 10 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, heat 1 cup water in a pot over high heat. Place edamame into a steamer basket over the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Upon boiling, remove the steamer basket, add couscous to water, and stir to combine. Replace steamer basket and cover, turn off heat, and let sit, undisturbed, for 10 minutes. (If you don't have a steamer basket that can be handled when hot, steam or blanch the edamame separately.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine all chopped vegetables, except avocado. Add the edamame, fluff the couscous with a fork, add, and toss well. Add avocado and black pepper, toss gently to incorporate, and serve, garnished with the scallions and dressing on the side.