Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recipe: Pesto Couscous Salad

I’m not sure why, but so far I haven’t been able to get my act together for 2010. I’m not completely discombobulated or anything, but I had hoped I could get into the groove of having my work lunch already made the night before so all I’d have to do was pack it and go. So far, no luck with that one unless I’m having leftovers. It’s not that big a deal, however, considering I’ve gotten really good at throwing stuff into a bag and hoping it turns out okay once lunchtime comes around. It worked beautifully for the Garbanzo & Avocado Salad from last month, and I feel it worked out just as well this time around. As I was flying around the house trying to corral StuKitty and give Hana her insulin (yes, I have a diabetic cat) before heading to work, I quickly packed an avocado (seriously, $0.67/each at Safeway last week??? I had to buy a metric ton), a small red onion, some dried couscous, and my one lone tomato, the last one I’d been hoarding for a couple of days just so I wouldn’t have to suffer sans tomato during the workweek. As an afterthought I also threw in a jar of pesto that came in my Foodbuzz Blogger Festival swag bag, remembering I was also sorely out of decent dressing ingredients. Surely this would work; pesto goes with EVERYTHING, right?


Now, I love making my own pesto at home and prefer to do that rather than buying it pre-made because it just tastes better. Alas, I haven’t been able to go to the farmers market in weeks because of the stupid ankle and refuse to buy dead, overpriced herbs at other stores, so I haven’t made homemade pesto in quite sometime. Fortunately, the pesto we got was no ordinary pesto; it came from Mezzetta, purveyors of delicacies such as fine olives, sundried tomatoes, and a wide variety of peppers, so I was not disappointed by its flavor & consistency in the least. My only issue with it is that it comes in such a small jar! But as with all quality ingredients & foods, a little definitely goes a long way, and after doing some research on pricing, this has to be some of the best jarred pesto I’ve tried for its price. It costs around $4.75 per 6.25 oz. jar, a steal considering other brands offer lesser pesto for about twice that much. So if you’re in a bind like I was and can’t make your own right now, I highly recommend trying the Mezzetta pesto.

Anyway, back to the food! (I got a little sidetracked there.) I couldn’t be happier with this little salad as it has everything Poor Girl could wish for in a recipe: flavor, health and value. I have also decided I will be using pesto more often to bless my food when I have no dressing options. I do that a lot with fresh salsa, using it on everything from salads to soups to rice dishes, and pesto is just as versatile. Though it’s a little on the fatty side because of the olive oil, parmesan and nuts, you don’t need to use much, so it’s a great way to add some flavor to your food without having to resort to mayo or sugar laden dressings. The combination of the crisp onion, smooth avocado and juicy tomato with the tender couscous is already a light, healthy winner in the lunch department, but trust me – the pesto makes all the difference in this one! Just be sure to bring a breath mint for later. :)

Pesto Couscous Salad (makes 3 servings; total cost per serving: ~ $1.05)

1 ½ c cooked couscous
1 large avocado
1 large tomato
½ medium red onion
1-2 T pesto (or more if you’re a pestoholic!)

Chop the avocado, tomato and onion into ½” pieces. Gently toss the veggies together with the cooked couscous, then add the pesto and mix until well-combined. Serve by itself or on a large bed of greens, and enjoy!


  1. I really liked the garbanzo & avocado salad, so I know I'll love this one too. Thanks for another tasty recipe that won't break the calorie budget! And it's vegan--I love eating vegan!!!!

  2. Mmm sounds lovely.I know how you feel, I'm usually pretty on it, but the beginning of 2010 has been a little shakey. We'll both get there though!

  3. Great thinking! I know what I'll be throwing together for my lunch for tomorrow!

  4. Three of my favorite things are in this: avocado, pesto and couscous! Definitely on the "to do" list, Kimberly. ;)

  5. K,
    You obviously love what you do. What's even more important than anything else is that you have "flair" not everyone possesses this attribute. Pursue what you love. I bet you do a lot of things extremely well. Your cooking should be at the top of the list. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I pretty much always by pass avacados in the store because I don't want to eat a whole one, and they brown so fast. How do you keep it from browning so the first serving of the salad is remotely as good as the last? Thanks for any tips - hope your ankle feels better!!!

  7. A couple drops of lemon juice on the avocado will take care of this problem, Suzee! Give it a shot and let me know how it works out. :)

  8. This recipe has all of my favorite things! Yummy.

  9. mmmm! this sounds so delicious. following your blog has made me so excited to have my own apartment again and make my own food...

  10. Oh delicious! I am with you on the somewhat going into 2010 not as organized as I wanted to be!

  11. Great idea,and perfect timing! Just made your recipe for lunch! -LeslieMichele

  12. Hi!! I just discovered your blog thanks to a friend, and lemme tell ya, I'm VERY excited to find you! I have a miniscule budget, too... college student... but I also need to eat well... dance student who needs quality food often!... So. Hello! Thanks for what you do!!

    Bon appetit!

  13. Yum! I love making couscous with artichokes (from a can), marinate it with lemon and olive oil. A few black olives and feta cheese....mmmm.

    I am on a quest to eat no more meat, so I will have to try avocados with garbanzo beans! I am desperately seeking recipes that will satisfy my meat loving family, LOL, otherwise the dog and I might be in danger, LOL.....I am a new fan, great to meet you!

  14. I am eating this right now, and it is friggin' HEAVEN. I cannot believe something so simple is so delicious. I think I love you and your site.

  15. Your pistachio pesto rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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