I had a unique opportunity to live in Italy for six months. It was a glorious experience. I learned a lot. One of the things I learned is how the Italians are masters at the whole farm-to-table food concept. They really don’t eat things that are out of season because they of course know, which we Americans have completely forgotten- vegetables are at their best when they are in season.
While I certainly loved the ability of swing by the market for fresh in season produce and whip up an amazing pasta dish an hour later, I did however, due to the “Melting Pot American” within myself desperately miss diversity.
Let’s be clear about living in Italy. You had best LOVE Italian food. Because, there really is nothing else.
I searched the country for Mexican, Chinese, Sushi, Indian and American (which sadly can only be found at McDonalds). I didn’t find any cuisine other than Italian. One time I was conned into going to a restaurant called “The American Restaurant”, surely they must have American food there? Nope. Just Italian food named after American cities.
For most travelers there on shortened stays, eating only Italian food would be a dream. After a month, I bought a train ticket to Austria so I could eat some Schnitzle.
Even for the lack of diversity the Italians have a few gems in their culinary pocket that for some reason hasn’t crossed the Atlantic. The first of these is their Rice Salad. Instead of a pasta salad they do one with rice. It is absolutely lovely. This Israeli Couscous Salad is an ode to that. I prefer the Pearl or Israeli variety of couscous in this salad, and it can easily be found at Trader Joes or other grocers.
Because I desperately needed to use my radish and my thighs cannot continue to withstand the “Radish with Salt and Butter” as one of my previous recipes describes, I felt I need to find a healthier way to eat this hot and spicy veg. I decided on Mint, because I hoped it would compliment and offset the heat of the radish. It does perfectly. Bonus is I have enough Mint leftover for a cocktail concoction.
This vegetarian salad could be served at room temperature or cold. It could easily be made vegan by omitting the goat cheese.
Israeli Couscous Salad with Radish and Mint
3 C. cooked Israeli Couscous
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced
2 Tbl. minced fresh mint
2 small green onions sliced, green parts only
1 oz herbed goat cheese
2 tsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbl. Majestic Garlic Tarragon (see note)
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Note: for Majestic Garlic see previous blog for link to buy. Can subsitute another herb flavor for tarragon.
Cook couscous according to package directions. While the couscous is cooking, slice radishes and green onions and mince mint. In a small prep bowl whisk together olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and Majestic Garlic.
When the couscous is finished and still warm toss in a serving dish with dressing and herbed goat cheese. Allow couscous to absorb both. Toss in sliced radish and green onions and mint. Serve immediately or set aside and serve at room temperature.
Main dish for 3, Side dish for 6