Day 20 of vegan recipe challenge: cuckoo for couscous

It’s always hard to watch the last few moments of the weekend fold in on itself, casting the dark shadows that will lead once again to the start of another week. All in all, it was another excellent weekend. I hosted our book club gathering on Friday evening (which is where today’s recipe stems from) as we ate various rice and lentil dishes while discussing Americanah and its implications for our world, our nation, our community, and ourselves.

Yesterday, we found ourselves in downtown Durham, exploring the Museum of Durham History before meeting friends at the newish Bull City Ciderworks. I highly recommend trips to both. Being still a “new” transplant to this area, I knew a little of the city’s history, mainly around what the Duke family initiated, but the breadth of civil rights and music history was enlightening. On Bull City Ciderworks: I never considered myself a huge fan of cider (although I wouldn’t pass up a glass of hot apple cider – ever). Still, the sweetness of many ciders has kept me at bay. The ciders we tried yesterday were full of flavor, several quite dry, and even hoppy. My favorite was Rhiz Up, touted as off dry ginger. I may have mentioned before how much I love ginger, and this hit ginger notes across the tongue and down the back of the throat. I would have this again in a heartbeat!

Speaking of things I would have again, today’s recipe was brought over to the book club potluck (I wish I had taken a photo of the spread because it was an array of colors) by my friend Shannon. I used to eat couscous like it was on the endangered grains list (making it in the microwave with saran wrap – yes, classy). But, it hasn’t made it on my grocery list in months. After trying this dish, it’s made it back to the top.

Cranberry Couscous Salad
Serves 6

couscousPhoto credit: Lalaloula. Say that three times fast!


  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1/4-1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Combine broth, cranberries, cinnamon, and cumin in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove broth from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let stand for 5-7 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly, uncovered.

Whisk oil and vinegar together; pour over couscous. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve either chilled or at room temperature.

couscous2Photo credit by Absinthe27 – what a fantastic handle

Another week of recipes in store, I hope. It truly warms my heart that several of my friends have not only read the recipes but have made them – and made them their own. That’s what the art of cooking is all about: finding what you can do in the kitchen. Cooking isn’t rocket science (thank goodness because I would starve…damn you science and math) but it can be intimidating. Whatever small part I can play in shattering any fears is an honor.

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