This title means, A Fantasic Summer Salad, and it truly is. I first had this 20 years ago at a house concert potluck in Palo Alto, CA, where people literally stood in line for a serving from a huge glass bowl . . . and it's been a favorite summer staple in my kitchen ever since. This salad is based on Israeli Couscous which is a very large grain - about the size of tapioca pearls. They have a wonderful mouth feel when cooked and make a great backdrop for summer's sweet cherry tomatoes, the mini mozzarella balls called 'pearls', handfuls of shredded fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. I'm submitting the large bowl buffet version I usually make. It can easily be reduced for a smaller quantity. —dede.schmitt
10-12 for a buffet
israeli couscous, boiled until al dente, drained and rinsed briefly to cool
tubs, drained, fresh mozzarella mini-balls, called "pearls"
pint baskets cherry, pear or grape tomatoes - the mixed yellow, orange, and red ones are lovely if you can find them. but red ones work well too.
fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
good quality extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar (to taste, but not too much!)
Sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper (lots!)
Cook until al dente the israeli couscous, drain, rinse briefly to cool and stop cooking. Set aside. Peel and mash garlic. Halve cherry tomatoes. Rinse, pat dry and shred (chiffonade) basil leaves, saving a few of the tip bouquets for garnish.
Combine these ingredients (couscous, garlic, tomatoes, and basil) and salt and pepper and toss well. Drizzle in olive oil slowly while tossing - the salt will begin to draw moisture from the tomatoes which will combine with the olive oil. Let site for 30 minutes before serving, toss again, and taste. Adjust olive oil and salt to taste. Sometimes I add a splash of red wine vinegar - this depends on the acidity of the tomatoes. Garnish with saved basil leaf tip bouquets.