Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lemony Couscous, Asparagus, and Feta Salad

Hello everyone! I haven't posted in such a long time, I've been so incredibly busy since graduating school! In any case, I've just recently realized that I really need to step back and keep doing things I enjoy, such as sharing my lovely recipes with everyone on here. So, here is one of my favorites this summer: Lemony cous cous, asparagus, and feta salad! This is really one of my go-to dinners over the summer, as it is light, cooling and refreshing, especially served over a bed of nice greens. I've always felt like the energetics of summer are more attune to lighter, fresher foods, and this salad really embodies that. The couscous (truly the food so nice they named it twice!) creates a nice, fluffy airy effect and a wonderful texture, while crunchy asparagus, zesty scallions, fresh, bright parsley, and salty, briny feta all meld perfectly together in an acidic lemon vinegarette. 

The other aspect of this salad that I love is that it is super healthy! While couscous itself isn't the most jam-packed with nutrients, I use whole wheat couscous to pack in all the fiber and protein possible. Additionally, one of the components in this salad that really gives it it's flare is parsely...the eternally underrated herb often pushed to the side as a simple garnish. Little does everyone who picks it off their plates know that it is one of the best culinary herbs you can eat! I simple 1/2 cup of parsely packs in more Vitamin C than a whole lemon (which is way more than an orange, for reference). Additionally, it is detoxifying (it neutralizes toxins we all take in on the regular), anti-inflammatory, and jam-packed with other nutrients. So, load up on that parsley, friends! 

Lemony Couscous, Asparagus, and Feta Salad
1 lb whole wheat couscous
12 cups boiling water, well salted! (10 for the couscous, 2 for blanching asparagus)
2 cups roughly chopped asparagus (about 1 bunch, ~20 spears)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (more of you really like it, like me or if you're trying to fight off a cold!) 
1/2 cup thinly chopped scallions (only the white and light green ends)
6 oz  crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

1. prepare the couscous by pouring it into a large mixing bowl, and pouring 10 cups of boiling water over it. Let it sit for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork, salt and pepper to taste, and put it in the fridge to cool.
2. Meanwhile, blanch your chopped asparagus in the remaining 2 cups of hot water. Leave them in the hot/ almost boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then run under cold water so they stop cooking and retain their color. Mix with the couscous and continue to chill.
3. Once the couscous mixture is thoroughly cooled, add in the chopped scallions and parsley. 
4. At this points, make the vinegarette. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil (a little s & p too) in a little jar and shake it until it is emulsified. Mix into the couscous, and salt and pepper the mixture again to taste. 
5. Right before (or shortly before) serving the salad, mix in the feta cheese. Enjoy!

Health Benefits!!
Parsely- Wow, who knew that half a cup of parsely has more vitamin C than not only an orange, but a lemon?? Parsely's volatile oils have also been shown to help prevent the formation of lung tumors, and also acts as a general "chemoprotective" food that neutralizes many types of toxins we may take in daily. Parsely is also a good source of folic acid and B vitamins. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, parlsey has also been shown to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Shame on whoever made this wonderful herb into a simple garnish!
Asparagus-  Works as a gentle diuretic to help flush your body of toxins, asparagus is very high in antioxidants that help protect you against a plethora of possible issues! Asparagus also contains inulin, which helps digestion and absorption processes. Also high in folate,  vitamin C and vitamin K. 
Lemon- Helps the body maintain its proper pH, which is important in guarding the body against chronic inflammatory disorders and complications. It is also jam packed with Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. 


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