Merguez and Couscous Salad
The other week when we were looking at days of hot weather and happened to have merguez in the freezer, this (from the NY Times Cooking site) seemed like a perfect summer supper. Serves 4:
Merguez and Couscous Salad
- 2 ¼ cups boiling water
- 2 cups couscous
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
- 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ wedges
- 8 ounces merguez sausage
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves and stems, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Make the couscous: In a medium, heat-resistant bowl, combine boiling water, couscous and 1 teaspoon salt, and cover with a plate or lid. Let sit until the water is absorbed, 7 to 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Meanwhile, light the grill to medium-high or heat your broiler with the rack 3 inches from the heat source.
Halve lemons crosswise and then squeeze the juice from one half into a large bowl. Add cumin, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil. Stir in radishes and set aside to marinate.
Place onion wedges and remaining 3 lemon halves, cut-side down, in a grill basket and grill until charred on one side only, 2 to 4 minutes. Or place on a sheet pan and broil until charred, 5 minutes. Transfer onions and lemons to a cutting board.
Either on the grill, or on the same sheet pan as used for the onions, grill or broil merguez until browned all over, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer sausages to a cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm while you assemble the salad.
When onion is cool enough to handle, dice it and add to radishes. Fold in couscous, tomatoes, 1/2 cup mint, 1/2 cup parsley, cucumbers, nuts and a large pinch of salt. Squeeze the juice from a charred lemon half into the bowl. Taste and add more salt and lemon, if needed. Slice merguez on a bias into 1/2-inch pieces.
To serve, spoon couscous salad onto a platter, then top with sausages and any accumulated juices. Garnish with remaining herbs and a big drizzle of olive oil and serve with remaining charred lemon halves on the side for more squeezing and enjoy!
We both love merguez and tabouli, of which this couscous salad was a variation of, so this was bound to be a hit, and it was. The big surprise? Marinating the radishes in the dressing. It really gave them a nice flavor, so I’ll be changing my routine and making the dressing first just to dump my radishes in.
It was also an easy way to make the couscous (not that it’s a hard thing to do anyway).
We found that under the broiler, the onions and lemons took longer than 4 minutes, and could have benefited from a quick toss in oil. The merguez also took about 5-6 minutes a side under the broiler. We’ll be making this with variations all summer long.