In an effort to share more of our very most every day meals, the ones I throw together with whatever’s left in the fridge, or the staples I can make with my eyes half closed at the end of a long day, I’ve started posting occasional short, simple posts just about these meals. I call it vær så god, Norwegian for “bon appetit.”
There’s something about adding plenty of fresh herbs to a dish that makes it seem a) summery and b) fancy. Whether you go barefoot and sundress-clad out into the backyard and grab herbs by the handful or you buy them at the supermarket while you’re out running errands, either way they still give you that sense that you are eating your meal out in a garden, or maybe in the middle of a farm field, and the sun is at that perfect golden angle, and the table is decorated with wildflowers, and it’s all just so. And all it took was some herbs! No schlep to the farm field, where there would most likely be tons of flies and mosquitos swarming and a faint (or not so faint) smell of barnyard, ahem, activity in the air anyway, because that’s what it’s actually like on farms. It’s great, but the sun isn’t always at the perfect golden angle.
Anyway, that is not really the point, other than to say that I do love having herbs growing in the backyard as prolifically as weeds. Especially when the chive plants flower because you can throw the flowers in to whatever you’ve just cooked, and suddenly it will make it look like you’re very pulled together and classy, when really all you did was snip some chives.
This particular salad was a way of combining herbs and some leftover salmon we had, and it turned out remarkably delicious. It’s on its way to becoming a summertime staple. The warm couscous is a soft, mellow bed for the crunch of radish, the bite of arugula, the plush meat of the salmon, and the sweet of peas. The chives and dill do their “taste of summer” thing, and plenty of lemon juice and good olive oil pull it all together.
Perhaps you will think I’m weird, but I’m going to suggest that whenever you grill this summer, you throw a couple lemon halves on the grill while you’re at it, and then use those lemons whenever you want a squeeze of citrus on your meat or vegetables, or whenever you want to make a lemon-based salad dressing. Grilling both mellows and concentrates the lemon flavor, making it juicier, more plush, and gently tinged with smoke. It’s truly fantastic in a salad dressing, and that is what I used here. But, if you only have ungrilled lemon halves, which I suppose is the way normal people keep their lemon halves around, those will work perfectly well too.
Vær så god!
- 1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous (you could also use another grain of your choice and just adjust how you cook it)
- 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 lb. cooked salmon, broken into bite-sized chunks
- about 4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
- ½ cup cucumber, washed (peeled if necessary) and chopped
- 2 large handfuls of arugula
- 1 avocado, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
- 1 heaped Tbs. minced fresh chives
- 1 heaped Tbs. minced fresh dill
- 1-2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from a grilled lemon, if you can swing it)
- salt and pepper
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium high heat, then stir in the couscous and toast until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the broth (you can also use water), cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer gently until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the peas to the pot 3 minutes before the cooking time is up and let them cook with the couscous.
- In the meantime, combine the salmon, radish, cucumber, and arugula in a rather large bowl. Add the cooked couscous and peas and toss with the remaining olive oil plus 1 Tbs. of the lemon juice.
- Gently stir in the herbs and avocado, then taste and add salt and pepper to taste, plus the remaining lemon juice, if desired.