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Author Notes: Package of Trader Joe's Harvest Blend (Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Garbanzo Beans and Red Quinoa) kept jumping out at me each time I opened the pantry. Last week, I needed to make a winter squash recipe for our 38 Power Foods blogging group and, somehow, the two met with apples and pears on the counter. Leave out the cheese for a hearty vegan entree. Note: I do the squash in the microwave to speed cooking time: first on high (pierced at large end for steam) for a 3-5 minutes, then (let cool a bit) peeled, seeded, and chopped for a few more min. or until tender. —Alyce Morgan
- 1 Small butternut squash- 1 lb or less, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 Package (8 ounces) Trader Joe's "Harvest Blend" Couscous or Israeli Couscous
- 4 Fresh sage leaves, optional
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Each: Canola oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper (I like white), Crushed red pepper
- 1 Apple, cored, 1/2 inch dice
- 1 Pear, cored, 1/2inch dice
- 2 Oranges (1 peeled and diced; 1 juiced for vinaigrette)
- 1/4 cup Pecans, chopped and toasted plus a few whole pecans for garnish
- 6 Dried figs (or fresh, if available)
- 2 ounces Each: Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Swiss Cheese (Jarlsberg, Emmental or Gruyère), 1/4" dice
- 1/4 cup Dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- 2 cups Fresh spinach leaves (to line bowl)
- Cook couscous according to package directions. Use chicken broth in place of water. You can add a few leaves of fresh sage if you have them (remove before making salad). When couscous is tender, add canola and olive oils while still hot. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (or to taste.) Stir in 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. (Cool to room temperature while you chop fruit and cheese.)
- Mix all chopped fruit, squash, cheese (skip for vegan version), and pecans with cooled couscous. Add the juice of the other orange and 1 teaspoon honey. Stir well, taste and adjust seasonings and/or dressing. Serve at room temperature in a bowl lined with fresh spinach leaves and garnish with reserved whole pecans. Keeps one day well covered in the refrigerator.