Minted Summer Couscous With Watermelon and Feta

The bad news is that it’s 98 degrees outside today and as per usual, it looks like us Angelenos are in for a very hot September and October. The good news is that Matt and I’ve been eating really well. Everyone has their priorities in life, and well, really good weeknight dinners is one of ours. Last week, for example, I made some BLTs with the crispiest bacon and heirloom tomatoes so ripe they were almost falling apart. I paired them with a salad of romaine, homemade croutons, avocados, and more tomatoes, which I tossed with a dressing I recently invented: a mix of lemon juice, whole milk yogurt, olive oil, thinly sliced onions, grated Parmesan and salt and pepper. It’s the kind of salad you could eat for the rest of your life and know that you’re not really missing out on other salads.

Most weeknights, once dinner is made, Matt and I sit down and have a meaningful conversation about the world and the ways we can better it... Yeah, right!

This is our weeknight routine as of now: I pick Teddy up from daycare, drive home, and then sit in the car (in the driveway) with him for about ten minutes while he “drives.” (Driving for Teddy is sitting in the driver’s seat and messing with every single button, knob, and switch he can get his hands on.) After I finally convince Teddy we’re done driving, we go inside and I feed him some manner of dinner. Matt comes home soon thereafter and then Teddy asks him if he can drive. After he and Matt are done driving, Teddy gets a bath and I start prepping dinner. At some point during the next hour, between cooking and hanging out with Teddy, Matt and I make eye contact for the first time all day. “Oh, hi!” we’ll say to one another. By the time we put Teddy to bed, dinner is ready. We plate our meal within minutes of closing Teddy’s bedroom door, and then we sit down and eat it along with some television.

I’m making a bit of fun of our domestic situation here, but it’s actually pretty great, especially when we’re eating good food and watching good television and/or movies, like Show Me a Hero or The Drop or Citizenfour or The Armstrong Lie or Love and Mercy, the latter of which I didn’t really enjoy but I have since enjoyed re-familiarizing myself with “Pet Sounds.”
All that said about weeknight cooking, I actually made this salad over the weekend. It felt like the perfect Labor-Day fare, and it was. I loved the brightness of the lime juice in the dressing mixed with just a touch of honey; it mixed superbly with the watermelon and celery. Teddy specifically loved the watermelon and feta. (The couscous confused him—he’d pull a tiny granule from his mouth and look at it like: what the heck is this tiny piece of food?)

The recipe comes from Maria Speck’s Simply Ancient Grains, a cookbook filled to the brim with inspiring dishes. Next on my list is her farro salad with roasted eggplant, caramelized onion, and pine nuts. And as soon as the weather cools down, I’m making the mac and cheese with Greek yogurt and leeks.
Speaking of cooler weather, all three of us are headed to Taos, New Mexico in a couple of weeks! My aunt and uncle live there on a veritable farm (there are goats!) and tell me that the peaches are insane right now. I can’t wait. Then, in October, I’m taking a solo trip to Madison, Wisconsin where I’ll be giving a reading as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. If you live in or near Madison, please come! I would LOVE to see you. People seem to adore the city of Madison, so I’m extra excited. Plus, this trip will be my first night(s) away from Teddy. Plus, my brother is meeting me there. Plus (literally?), I will be 29 weeks pregnant by then.

OK, that’s everything for now. Talk to you guys soon!
Minted Summer Couscous With Watermelon and Feta from Simply Ancient Grains
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of saffron, optional
2 or 3 medium limes, preferably organic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 to 2 teaspoons honey, depending on your preference
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup celery, cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices (about 1 stalk)
1/2 cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves, plus a few leaves for garnish
1/2 cup crumbled mild feta, preferably sheep’s milk

Add the water to a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the couscous, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the saffron, cover, and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl, spreading and fluffing the grains again. Set aside 
to cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, zest the limes until you have 2 teaspoons zest. Squeeze the fruit until you have 3 tablespoons juice. Place the zest and juice in a small screw-top jar and add the olive oil, honey, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Shake vigorously until the dressing is amalgamated.

Once the couscous has cooled, distribute the watermelon, celery, and mint across. Drizzle the dressing across and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that feta can be quite salty). If you have time, allow to sit for 30 minutes for flavors to meld.

To finish, toss again, top with the crumbled feta and the mint leaves for garnish, 
and drizzle with a touch more olive oil.


Matthew said...

Loved this salad and can't wait for Taos. XOXO

Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) said...

i'm slowly wilting with this weather, but all the produce and salads and delicious everything make it worth it.

HAILEY said...

Yum! Maybe I will make this for one last summer hoorah (the weather has already cooled up a bit in Portland and the leaves are falling.) And I'm curious about the eggplant dish with caramelized onions. I decided to officially give up on trying to like eggplant this summer, but darn it if the mention of caramelized onions don't have me wanting to give eggplant another chance.

Is Teddy too young to enjoy a cardboard box car? This was my favorite way to drive as a kid. ;)

Maria Speck said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful — your writing, pictures, and a big thank you for eating my salad with your family!

Unknown said...

we recently had couscous as well and mila spit it out. i think there is something weird about how small the pieces are? or because eli put raw onions?
also, mila went through that driving phase. she still does it every once in a while, but not as consistently (like every time we parked)
always love reading your posts

Mary Anne said...

AHHH! Can't believe that Bioll is meeting you in Madison! So fun! This salad looks amazing too....

Marjory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Love the handwritten list!! And the Edgewater has improved dramatically, BTW, incase you stayed there in recent years. Madison is the Fall is the absolute best!

Badger Reader said...

OMG You are coming to WI! I am beyond excited!

Jessica Clare said...

This looks amazing! And I'm from Santa Fe, but live in Seattle now and so jealous you're going to NM...perfect time of year. :)

Amelia Morris said...

@Badger Reader Yes! Please come to the event!!! I'll be bringing bon appetempt tote bags too. :)

Amelia Morris said...

@Nick Brown I've never been! And am looking SO forward to the fall weather. It's still in the 80s and 90s here. :(

Amelia Morris said...

@Nick Brown I've never been! And am looking SO forward to the fall weather. It's still in the 80s and 90s here. :(

Amelia Morris said...

@Carmen Epstein Thanks, Carmen! I wish Mila and Teddy could hang out in the car together sometime. xoxx

Amelia Morris said...

@HAILEY good idea with the cardboard car... we will keep our eyes out for large boxes.

Perryn said...

Hi! I learned about you and your blog as I was planning which WI Book Fest events to attend. You made the cut even before I visited your blog. Now I'm really excited! Looking forward to seeing you next month!

Kate said...

Sounds like you guys are living it right!! Wish I could come see you in Madison, but alas I don't think I'll make the 10 hour drive. Best of luck, do you wanna come to Fargo?