Tag Archives: fruit salads

My Favorite New Salad: CousCous

Couscous - Banner Shot - Inside NanaBread's Head

I am addicted to couscous. I blame my little sister (aka #4). She’s the one who first introduced me to it, and since then I have come to love it beyond words. It’s hard to even pinpoint what I love most. Maybe it’s the couscous grain itself – so buttery and delicious. Or perhaps it’s the combination of fresh & dried fruits; it does pair my favorite tart dried cherries, cranberries and apricots with the sweetness of fresh melons. Or maybe it’s the nuts? That’s a strong possibility, since toasty roasted pistachios, walnuts & pecans are showcased.

Couscous - Ingredients - Inside NanaBread's Head

Who am I kidding? It’s all of it, tossed together to create a sweet & savory, soft & crunchy perfection you just can’t find in other salads. And the best part is that you can customize it to include any of your personal favorites. My little sister loves to add pomegranate seeds. I adore it with the fresh melon and dried papaya. Any way you choose to make it, be forewarned – once you try it, you may never stop obsessing over it. Trust me.

NanaBread’s Easy CousCous:
1 cup water
1 pinch of table salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked couscous
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried papaya, diced
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup dried, pitted tart cherries
1/2 cup fresh honeydew melon, diced
1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe, diced
1/2 cup roasted & salted pistachios
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
zest & juice of one orange

In a saucepan, combine the water, salt, agave, cinnamon and butter; stir over medium-high heat until the water mixture comes to a boil. Quickly add the couscous and stir constantly for one minute, to prevent the couscous from sticking. Cover tightly with a lid, turn off the heat, and let it sit for 5 minutes.

While the couscous is resting, chop your fruits and nuts into roughly the same size pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl; toss with the juice and zest of one orange. Once the couscous is ready, fluff it with a fork and pour it over the fruits and nuts; toss to thoroughly combine.

Couscous - Close-Up - Inside NanaBread's Head

Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Leftover couscous should be refrigerated in an airtight container and should keep for at least 4-5 days. I don’t think mine will last that long. Not even close. Nope. Not at all. Not sharing, either. Nuh-uh. {going back for more}

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Salad Week: Toughie’s Apple Salad

It’s Salad Week! What a glorious way to celebrate Spring. Once again, my blogging partners in crime and I are co-oping a food themed week and this time salads are the stars. And honestly after a big sugar-filled holiday weekend, who couldn’t use a few new salad recipes, am I right?

In our salad week discussions, the topic of retro salads came up as well as salads made with unconventional ingredients. Examples: Twinkie Salad and aspic. Does anyone even know what aspic is anymore? The retro salads of potlucks past struck a chord with me, so today I’m featuring one of my mother-in-law’s fruit salads from the 1950’s. It has a few unexpected ingredients, but they all come together beautifully to make an old-fashioned potluck favorite.

For the record, my mother-in-law is a gem. She’s spunky and funny and I love her very much. Her nickname is Toughie, and this is Toughie’s Apple Salad.

Toughie’s Apple Salad:
4 crisp apples, peeled & chopped
1 small can of crushed pineapple
1 small can of pineapple tidbits
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
the juice of one fresh lemon
the juice from both cans of pineapple
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

To start, peel and dice the apples and toss them into a large mixing bowl. Open the cans of pineapple and drain the juice, reserving it for the custard dressing; toss the drained pineapple into the bowl with the apples.

In a saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, mustard, lemon juice and the juice from both cans of pineapple. Cook over medium heat, whisking often to prevent lumps, until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. If you’re in a hurry, pour the custard into a bowl and pop it into the fridge to chill.

Once the custard is cool, pour it over the fruit and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into your serving dish, then sprinkle the coconut and cheese over the top. Serve cold as a dessert salad.

My thoughts: Yes, it’s weird to put a little yellow mustard in a fruit custard, but the surprising thing is you don’t taste mustard in the finished product. It gives it a bright little tang like lemon zest would. So while it sounds weird, don’t leave it out. It really adds a zing. Cheese also throws some people off when they see this fruit salad. Is it necessary? Probably not. There’s really not enough of it to have a strong impact. What it does do is give you a nice contrast between the sweet of the fruit and the sharp cheddar when you take a bite. And speaking of sweet, this custard is very sweet. I was a good girl this time and stuck to the recipe as Toughie intended it, but the next time I make it I’ll be cutting the sugar down to a 1/2 cup or maybe even a 1/4 cup. If you prefer less sugar and more natural sweetness in your fruit salad, I recommend you do the same.

Now, on to the rest of Salad Week. Don’t forget to visit my lovely friends throughout the week as they share a few introductory salads to whet your appetite. Then on Saturday April 14th, we’ll all be posting salads in a big Salad Week Extravaganza – much like the grand finale of a fireworks display. In addition, there will be a linky party over at Allison’s place so you can not only see all of our salads from the week, but you can add your own favorites, as well.

Salad Week bloggers include:
Allison – Decadent Philistines Save the World
Jeanne – Inside NanaBread’s Head (hey, that’s me!)
Lauren – Climbing Grier Mountain
Kat – Tenaciously Yours
Kirsten – Comfortably Domestic
Megan – Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
Madelyn – La Petite Pancake
Monica – The Grommom
Carrie – Bakeaholic Mama

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes