I have a pile of cookbooks sitting on my side table that I’ve been wanting to share with you. This year has been a big year for books by people I admire (and the fall is showing no sign of a slow down). It feels like such a wonderful time for fresh, seasonal cooking in terms of books. This is exciting and slightly bad- I’m going to need a bigger book shelf (because I’m still a physical book lover- none of these ‘ebooks’!)
The book I wanted to share with you today is by one of my favorite authors. I first learned about Maria from her first cookbook. My mom had picked it up and sometimes when I’m at her house, I raid her cookbook collection (and by raid, I mean borrow for an extended period of time). I had just started my path down whole grains when I picked up Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. I fell in love with Maria’s creative use of grains and she is one of the biggest proponents of ancient grains.
Her newest book, Simply Ancient Grains, is a wonderful follow-up to her first book. The cookbook spans breakfast through mains and to desserts. It’s a good sign when I flip through a cookbook and want to make nearly every recipe. I started with the giant spelt pancake with squash blossoms (not only creative but beautiful too) and followed it up with this summer couscous. Fruit and grains has been a theme for me this summer (starting with this cherry and quinoa salad). The salad is light, refreshing, and perfect for any picnic or cookout.
If you’re a grain lover like myself, I highly recommend checking out both Maria’s books. They are both a wonderful inspiration to really dive into the world of Ancient grains!
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup whole wheat couscous (not pearl couscous)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of saffron (optional)
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 to 3 limes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for finishing
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, 3/4″ cubed
- 1/2 cup celery, cut 1/4″ thick
- 1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta (Maria suggest sheep’s milk)
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the couscous, salt, and saffron (if using). Cover, set aside, and let sit until the water has absorbed, about 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer to a serving dish, spreading and fluffing again. Let cool.
- Combine the lime zest, juice, olive oil, honey, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a jar with a tight lid. Shake until the dressing has combined.
- Once the couscous has combined, add the watermelon, celery, and mint. Drizzle the mixture with the dressing and gently toss. Let sit for 30 minutes (if you have time) then top with extra mint, feta and an extra drizzle of olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking and serve.