The Salad Recipe to Hug Your Turkey Day Leftovers & Feed You All Week

November 28, 2016

You’ve just come off the eating and cooking marathon of the year, and believe it or not, you’re hungry. But your kitchen is still a wild mess, and you’re looking for something that won’t put you (back) into a slumber.

This Pearl Couscous with Roasty Roots, Chickpeas, and Pepitas has the warmth and comfort you want right now, but is buoyant from pasta confetti (also known as Israeli couscous) and flexible to your eating whims. You could roast off some extra roots, and your meal ideas just expanded tenfold. Or make a double batch of the couscous, and watch how it helps you sail through this week’s meals.

Here’s how to turn this couscous into a bunch of varied meals:

  • Soup. Warm up the salad and some broth, combine, and there you have it: soup (hint hint, do this with all your grain salads). The salad would also be good in tomato-based soups, or spicy ones—throw in some chorizo, why don’t you. You could even take it in stew or curry’s directions. Here, here, and here will lead you to good ideas.

  • Tabbouleh. You will find tabbouleh with Israeli couscous instead of bulgur wheat, so with this salad already ready, a skippy herb dish isn’t far off. Just finely chop parsley and mint (even kale, if you’ve got it), mix with the couscous, then dress lightly with olive oil and lemon juice.

  • Baked pasta—yes, pasta. Israeli couscous is indeed a pasta—to make it into a baked pasta that's warm, saucy, and hopefully cheesy. Mix the salad with some sort of pasta sauce: A squash-based one would fit right in. Top with some cheese and/or something crunchy (pine nuts, breadcrumbs, toasted quinoa?), then bake at a high heat just until the cheese is melted and the couscous is warmed through. Any longer and the couscous will go mushy.
  • Thanksgiving leftover hugger. Your leftover turkey, roasted roots or brussels sprouts, sautéed greens, pearly onions? Stick 'em all in this salad. It’ll keep on giving.

  • Stuff it. Let this couscous be the quinoa, rice, or sausage that you might stuff mushrooms, peppers, fish, or squash with. Heck, you could make a squashducken if you really, really (?) wanted.

  • Salad begets salad. Do you want chicken salad, or have a rotisserie chicken within reach? Shred that chicken into the couscous, add a little more dressing if you need it. The same could be said of the kale, brussels sprouts, lentils, beans, quinoa, fennel, salmon, chorizo, or cured meat you may have.

  • Savory porridge. While porridge is usually made with grains—like oatmeal, farro, or quinoa—it could work with Israeli couscous if you watch the reheating closely. Warm the couscous gently in water or chicken broth—it will start to slump a little, but that’s okay. You could mix in some cheese, spice (harissa would be great), or greens if you like, then top in so many ways; here are a few good ideas to get you started.

Tell us: What are your make-ahead wonders?

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Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.