Green Couscous Salad

Don’t be intimidated by the looonng ingredient list for this couscous salad. It’s actually very simple to prepare. I’ll warn you, it is a bit time consuming, but well worth it!

I’m a huge fan of veggie-based meals with lots of herbs, spices and good quality olive oil. They’re very satisfying if done right. The cookbook, “Plenty” has tons of veggie recipes (that’s where I got this one). Some are best as appetizers while others could stand-in for a meaty main course. If I made this salad with quinoa, it would have enough protein and B vitamins to stand-in for a main course, but I wanted to follow the recipe exactly so I used couscous and served it as a side dish.

Couscous

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Green Couscous
Serves 4

1 cup couscous
3/4 cup boiling water or vegetable stock
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Herb Paste: (fresh herbs are very important here since they’re such a major flavor in this dish)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped tarragon
2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 Tbsp chopped mint
6 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
3 green onions, finely sliced
1 fresh green chile, finely chopped (I used a Serrano chile)
1 1/4 cup arugula leaves, chopped

Place the couscous in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water or stock. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until golden and completely soft. Add the salt and cumin, mix well. Leave to let cool slightly.

To make herb paste place ingredients in a food processor (I used a small blender — The Magic Bullet). Blend until smooth.

Add the herb mixture to the couscous and mix it together. Use a fork to fluff the couscous. Add the cooked onion, pistachios, green onions, green chile and the arugula and gently toss. Serve at room temperature.

I served this alongside whitefish baked with lemon slices and dill.

Image via my Instagram account

China Camp Hike

East of San Rafael in northern California is a California State Park called China Camp. This 19th century Chinese settlement has a lot of history and some beautiful trails. Chinese immigrants created a self-sustaining shrimping village in this spot starting in 1880. Today you can walk on the old, crooked dock and tour a small museum with some artifacts from this time when about 500 people lived here. The park re-created the tiny houses settlers would have lived in at the time, which are very sparse.

China Camp is a great place to hangout on a sunny day, have a picnic or take a hike. On a recent weekend, my fiancé and I h hiked the Shoreline Trail. This 4.5 mile trail takes you through oak trees and tall grass with excellent views of San Pablo Bay.

Shoreline 1

Shoreline 2

Shoreline 4

Shoreline 5

Shoreline 7

If you go here, keep in mind you need to bring cash for parking OR park alongside the two-lane road. Sometimes these free spots on the road fill-up and you’ll have to park far from the trailhead. The spots along the road don’t leave much room for driving error, as a cliff to the bay is feet away with no guard rail in many spots.

It’s likely you’ll encounter others along your hike since this is a well-known trail, but most of the time we were alone on the trail. Here are some trail rules of etiquette to know if you go hiking:

  • You might have to stand aside on the narrow portions of the trail as other hikers pass. People going on the easy downhill portions should yield to hikers going uphill. Bikers should yield to hikers. Everyone yields to people on horseback.
  • Stay to the right on wider sections of trail.
  • Always pass on the left.
  • Stay on the trail to avoid trampling into an animal’s space (rattlesnakes are common in Northern California — I’ve come across a few).
  • Don’t hike alone!

HikingGuide,