Let me begin by saying that I love anything with artichokes. Growing up, my birthday dinner always included steamed artichokes, which provided tender leaves for me to pluck off and dunk in a lemon-butter sauce.
While artichokes don’t play a prominent role in this recipe, they add a certain olfactory nostalgia when I get a bite that includes the crispy couscous cake, tender artichoke and lemony mint dressing.
This recipe is a pleasant surprise that I easily made on a weeknight with some leftover couscous – remember my risotto cakes? Yeah, using leftovers in this fashion is amazing!
You start by mixing cooked couscous with lemon zest, eggs and a puree of chickpeas, parsley and garlic. Then you press them into 1/4 cup measuring cups and pan fry them until golden on each side. The egg holds them together quite well – I only had one cake fall apart a bit. THEN you place them on a salad of lettuce (I used bibb lettuce), tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a delicious sauce made of sour cream, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Finish with a sprinkling of feta cheese.
I think Grant was a disbeliever when he first saw me making this, but then the smells got him salivating and he ended up loving it.
Another splendid recipe from my Fine Cooking magazine that I can’t put down!
Couscous Cakes with Artichokes, Feta and Creamy Mint Sauce
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
For the dressing –
- 2 T fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1 T low-fat sour cream
- 1 tsp finely chopped mint leaves (it grows like a weed around here)
- 5 T EVOO
- Salt and pepper
For the couscous cakes –
- 3/4 c. couscous
- 1 c. chicken stock
- Kosher salt
- 1 large garlic glove, peeled
- 1/4 c. packed Italian parsley leaves
- 1 14-oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 T canola oil
For the salad –
- Lettuce of your choice (spinach works well, or Romaine or bibb)
- 14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and sliced (I used Trader Joe’s frozen artichoke quarters and just thawed them and drained them)
- 1 c. chopped fresh tomato (or cherry tomatoes)
- 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, sour cream and mint. Slowly whisk in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring chicken stock to boil, then add 1 tsp salt and couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool (or make ahead!)
In a food processor, add garlic and parsley, pulsing until chopped. Add chickpeas and 1 tsp salt and pulse until blended together.
In a medium bowl, mix together the chickpea mixture, couscous, eggs and lemon zest. Press mixture into 1/4-cup measure and invert to release the cake. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Heat 1 1/2 T oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add enough cakes to fit, flattening them with a spatula a bit. Cook, flipping once, until browned on each side, then remove to a paper-towel lined plate to cool. Repeat with remaining cakes, adding more oil as necessary.
To assemble the salad, place lettuce on a plate, then tomatoes, artichokes and cakes. Drizzle with creamy mint sauce and finish with a sprinkling of feta.
So good! Just right for a warm night – eating outside or in front of the TV for the season finale of Mad Men (eeeek!).
Enjoy, friends! xoxo