This couscous salad is tasty, balanced, and healthy. It travels incredibly well. (It's my answer to plane food!) It also relies on ingredients you likely already have in the pantry. Serve it for lunch, or as part of a picnic or potluck. —Cristina Sciarra
Peel the carrots and the sweet potatoes. Chop them up however you like, but I would cut them into small-ish pieces. (You want them bite-sized, so you can eat this traveling, without a knife.)
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Toss the sweet potato and carrot pieces with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and generously with sea salt and black pepper. Move the vegetables to the baking sheet, arranging them so they aren't too crowded. (You want them to roast and caramelize, not steam.) Move the baking sheet to the oven: roast for about 30 minutes, moving the vegetables around ever 10 minutes or so. They are done when blackened in spots, and cooked through.
In a small pot, bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a simmer.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat; when the oil is warm, add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, until fragment, and then add the couscous. Toast the couscous for about 1 minute, and then add the hot stock. (Make sure the heat is on medium; if the heat is high enough to boil the stock, the couscous will overcook. You can also boil for 8 minutes, and then drain any excess stock.) Put the lid on the pot, and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid: there should only be a little liquid left in the pot. (If not, put the lid back on, and continue cooking for up to 5 minutes.) Then, cook for another 1-2 minutes with the lid off, until the liquid is largely dissolved. Take the pot off the heat. You can add a tiny bit of olive oil now if you like: it will help prevent the couscous from sticking together.
Make the dressing: add the lemon juice and the Dijon mustard to a small bowl, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Use a fork, or the back of a spoon, to mix. Pour in the oil, and whisk to emulsify.
Mince the red onion. Wash the can-goop off the chickpeas. Crumble the goat cheese.
Now you can mix everything together, right in the couscous pot. Add the: sweet potatoes, carrots, dressing, red onion, chickpeas, goat cheese, za'atar, and pumpkin seeds to the couscous; stir. You can eat the salad warm, or at room temperature.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.