I’m not a huge main dish salad fan. It seems like whenever I just have greens with veggies and protein for lunch, I end up with a grumbling tummy only a couple hours later. My outlook recently changed after a lab potluck though. Sima brought in a lovely spinach salad topped with Israeli couscous and chicken mixed with a variety of goodies. I loved it and felt like the extra carbs on top turned it into a complete and satisfying meal. Of course, I had to put my own twist on the idea and here is the result!
I mixed some spiced up shrimp with the Israeli couscous, red pepper, corn, black beans, and grape tomatoes. For the dressing, I pulsed an avocado and some ranch dressing in my food processor until it was smooth, which ended up being quite tasty. Since the salad was just for us, I mixed all the dressing with the couscous and then placed it atop the undressed spinach. When we mixed the couscous with the spinach, I thought we got the perfect amount of dressing, but you could also serve the dressing on the side so everyone can add as much as they’d like. Definitely lunch worthy!
Avocado Ranch Israeli Couscous Salad
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 1/3 cups Israeli Couscous (1 8-ounce box from Trader Joe’s)
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cooked corn
1 can 15.5-ounce black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped in half
10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
To make the shrimp, place butter, honey, ancho chile powder, adobo sauce, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Add shrimp and mix until well covered. Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat and place shrimp in the pan; saute for 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
To make the couscous, heat canola oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan; add onion and red pepper and saute for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add couscous and saute 2 minutes or until light brown. Add chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, put on lid, and simmer for 8 minutes or until broth is absorbed and couscous is tender. Put couscous in the bowl with the shrimp.
To make the dressing, place avocado, ranch dressing, and salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Place dressing in the bowl with the shrimp and couscous.
To assemble the salad, place corn, black beans, and grape tomatoes in the bowl with the shrimp, couscous, and dressing, and mix well. Place spinach leaves on a large platter and arrange couscous on top. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition: 530 calories, 21.0g fat, 8.7g fiber, 27.1g protein per serving
Cost: $2.72 per serving