Here is this week’s post for the Yakima Herald. I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation on the proposed downtown plaza this week in addition to attending several wonderful events in the heart of the city over the last couple weeks. As easy as it is to criticize the places we live (Yakima or anywhere really), I’m challenging myself to look at where I live with a new lens, looking for the good and positive, because it doesn’t take much to start seeing it everywhere I go.
My husband and I happened to be downtown on Thursday evening to meet friends for dinner. We were on our way to Crafted, a new restaurant, which just opened on First Street in the old Barrel House. As we drove down Yakima Avenue I was blown away to see how many people were out and about that night. Families were walking into and away from the Downtown Summer Nights concert series on North Front Street, restaurants were spilling over with people sitting on patios enjoying the beautiful weather and we even had to circle once in the parking lot before finding a place to park.
I’ve never been so happy to have to look for a place to park. It was good to see downtown bustling with people. It felt downright urban in the loveliest small-town way, of course, but a breath of fresh air nonetheless. With several restaurants newly opened with rumors of more on the way along with activities like the free weekly concert series, live music at various wineries and coffee shops downtown and the Farmer’s Market on Sundays, the place to be is downtown Yakima.
This summer couscous salad is a little like downtown Yakima. Surprisingly lovely, fresh and fun but easy to pass over unless you give it a try. Whole wheat couscous is cooked in chicken broth and fresh ginger, cinnamon and turmeric and then mixed with vegetables, dates, raisins, chickpeas and heaps of fresh parsley. Fresh lemon juice at the end adds a lovely little zing to every bite. This is the perfect dish to make on Sunday after a trip to the Farmer’s Market and keep in the refrigerator all week for easy lunches. Add some grilled chicken to make this salad a complete meal.
Summer Couscous Salad
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 cups whole wheat couscous
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 14oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- The juice of 2 lemons
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot stir together the chicken stock, 1 tablespoon olive oil, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, mix in the couscous, stir well. Cover with lid and set aside for 15 minutes. When the couscous is fully cooked, stir in raisins and dates. In a large bowl combine zucchini, carrots, onion, red pepper, chickpeas and almonds. Fluff the couscous with a fork and mix it into the vegetables. Whisk together the remaining olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the salad. Garnish with fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Taste to see if the salad needs more seasonings and add whatever you like to get the flavor you’re looking for. Serve at room temperature or cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.