This lucky girl is going on two amazing trips in the next three weeks. Today I will take a train from Beijing to Henan province to spend the week with a close Chinese friend, his friend and his Chinese family, which means I’ll be celebrating Chinese New Year with Chinese people in China, how cool is that. I’m not sure what to expect, but I think I can be sure it will involve a lot of eating (not complaining at all) and also some major awkwardness when I’m trying to have conversations in my crappy Chinese. After I return to Beijing I will spend one night here before flying home. Home! Unfortunately it’s not just fun and games, since my granddad had a nasty fall and ended up in the hospital. He’s doing ok, but I really want to spend some time with him (and bake some cakes for him) and that’s why I decided to make a short visit home before the second semester starts. I can’t deny that I’m also really really really looking forward to seeing my best friends and my family again and I will, of course, spend some time in the kitchen. And to make everything even better, I will have my two loyal travel companions with me on both trips.
This couscous salad is the last dish I’ve made before coming to Beijing at the end of August last year. Of course it’s not a Dutch salad and it’s also not the first dish that would pop up in my mind when I’m craving a soothing winter dish, but when that moment comes when you’re starting to doubt if the weather will ever get better again and you need to be reminded what summer feels like, this salad full of fragrant herbs, crunchy nuts and a pungent dressing Is the perfect thing to make.
Slightly adapted recipe from Home Made by Yvette van Boven
This salad would pair very well with these lamb meatballs.
500 g couscous, you can also replace this with quinoa or bulgur
250 g mixed nuts; like hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds etc.
4 bunches of different fresh herbs; like parsley, coriander, basil and mint
200 g raisins
1 tbsp seeds from cardamom pods or 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom powder (I used a little bit more)
2 tbsp honey
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 2 (big) lemons
fresh ground pepper
400 ml olive oil
Cook the couscous in a big bowl by following the directions on the package. Gently stir with a fork (not a spoon, then the couscous will form clumps) to loosen up the couscous.
Roast the nuts in a dry pan until they are brown and fragrant, add to the couscous. Wash the herbs, roughly chop them and add them with the raisins to the couscous.
Either grind the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar or use the store-bought powder and place it in a big mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients for the dressing, except for the olive oil. When all the ingredients (except the olive oil) are properly mixed, add the olive oil a little bit at a time, while continuously whisking.
Pour the dressing over the couscous and mix with a fork (or clean hands).
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge, take it out 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve. You can also make the salad a day in advance.