Greek Couscous/bulgher Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8, 1/2-cup servings
· 1 ½ cups water
· 1 cup Couscous or bulgher
· 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided or omit
· 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon, divided
· 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered cubed
· 1 cup cucumber (1 small), deseeded and small diced
· ½ cup halved pitted kalamata olives, minced or omit- use Israel salt substitute
· ¼ cup red onions, diced or red onions
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· Crushed black pepper
· Toasted pine nuts
· 1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
· 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, or almond cheese substitute.
· 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts (optional)
1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil, add 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon extra olive oil. Then add couscous and stir. Cover with a lid and remove from heat. Let couscous steam for five minutes.
2. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
3. In large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, olives/ or omit, red onions and then stir in couscous.
4. In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, remaining oil and salt, black pepper until well blended. Toss with couscous mixture and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I generally stir in the lemon with the boiling water. I like the grain very dry. Garnish with fresh mint, feta and pine nuts right before serving. I also hold the oil until the end and adjust the quantity.
Almond Cheese: Most recipes for homemade almond cheese call for soaking the blanched almonds in cold water for 24 hours before making the cheese. I have made this cheese with almonds that I soaked and with almonds that were un-soaked and noticed very little difference in the final product. The cheese made with soaked almonds was perhaps slightly creamier. And the almonds start to sprout rendering them larger. So why bother soaking the almonds?
It is thought that soaking almonds ( and soaking other nuts and seeds) makes them easier to digest and makes it easier to absorb their nutrients. If you choose to soak the almonds before making this recipe, begin the night before. Place the almonds in a glass bowl or jar and cover completely with water. Cover the bowl or jar and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain and rinse the almonds well.
Making the Lactose Free Almond Cheese
Put the almonds in a food processor or high-powered blender with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and water. Blend until very smooth. This will take awhile, about 5 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into double-layered cheesecloth lining a colander. Gather the cheesecloth tightly around the almond mixture and secure into a bundle by using a rubber band or string to tie the top. Give the bundle a few gentle squeezes to remove liquid.
Leave the bundle in the colander and place in the refrigerator overnight over a bowl or rimmed plate to catch any liquid that might drain. You can also use a french white heart shaped porcelain bain-marie, by Apilco. This use allows you to soak, drain and pat dry.
Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. This helps the texture of the cheese become firmer. The holes in the bottom permit you to keep adding fresh water to cover . The the bath in another glass baking dish.
Discard any liquid that drains out. Carefully peel the cheesecloth off of the almond “cheese”. The “cheese” will have a consistency similar to cookie dough.
At this point, the almond cheese can be eaten as a spread or it can be gently shaped into a round about 3/4-inch thick and baked at 300 F for 30-40 minutes. After baking, the top will be dry and slightly firm. The inside will still be creamy.
Flavoring the Cheese
The cheese can be flavored by adding seasonings such as fresh garlic, fresh herbs and spices. Some recipes flavor the cheese with nutritional yeast. You can add these ingredients at the beginning when you are blending ingredients. Now the block is prepared for your bulgher salad