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It seems like we've been eating more meat and junk food than usual over the past few weeks. Perhaps it was the cooler weather that encouraged our bodies to stock up on calories for winter but whatever the cause, it didn't feel too healthy. So last night I dug out a Fine Cooking magazine from earlier this year that had a section with heartier salad recipes for dinnertime meals. There were four dishes: one with chicken, one with salmon, one with steak, and one with couscous cakes. To avoid meat entirely, I made the couscous cake salad and it was a definite hit. It was easy and, apart from making the cakes themselves, most of the other steps could be changed or skipped.

Takes no time at all and is a good, quick, and adaptable weeknight meal.

Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup couscous
  • salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 parsley
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • zest of one medium lemon
  • 3 Tbps. vegetable or canola oil
  • 8oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach
  • one 14oz can of artichoke "bottoms" or "quarters" (not hearts), drained and rinsed (and sliced, if you have time; we like them as-is from the can as bigger chunks)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper
  1. Follow directions to make couscous. For me, that meant bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, then adding the couscous and 1 tsp of salt, covering the pan, and removing it from the heat. Let sit for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put garlic clove in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add chickpeas and 1 tsp salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Uncover couscous, fluff with fork and add chickpea mixture, eggs and lemon zest. Combine well. Press mixture in 1/4 cups measure, smooth the top, and invert the "cake" onto a plate or cutting board. Should make about 9 cakes.
  4. Heat 1.5 Tbsp of veg/canola oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add 5 of the cakes to the skillet and lightly flatten with spatula. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and do the second batch (add a bit of extra oil to the skillet first).
  5. In a large bowl, toss spinach, artichokes, tomatoes and dressing (the dressing provided in the recipe was only so-so; use whatever you like). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 3 plates. Top each salad with 3 couscous cakes and sprinkle each plate with feta. Serves 3 regular people, or 2 famished people.
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