After all the winter soups and casseroles, this easy main course salad is a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring and showcase the beautiful fresh basil and other herbs that are turning up in the local grocery stores.
COUSCOUS and FRENCH LENTIL SALADFor the Couscous
½ Tbs. olive oil
1¼ cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
For the Lentils
1 cup French green lentils (du Puy)
6 cups water
1 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
For the Dressing
6½ Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
1 Tbs. dry white wine
2-4 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
To Finish the Salad
3 small seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 bunch scallions, white part chopped, green tops sliced
½ to 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, basil, dill, or a combination
1. Bring broth to simmer in a small saucepan. Heat ½ Tbs. olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Toast the couscous in the oil, stirring constantly over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add boiling broth. Cover and simmer for five minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to large bowl. Fluff to remove clumps and let cool. (Couscous may be rinsed in cold water to cool more quickly.)
2. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add lentils, return to boil, cover and simmer until tender but not falling apart, 13-15 minutes. Rinse to cool. Transfer lentils to bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, wine, garlic, and salt and pepper. Stir dressing into couscous. Fold in lentils and remaining ingredients. Chill well and serve with crusty bread and salad. Serves 6.