Arugula and Toasted Couscous Salad with Roasted Root Veggies and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
I made an epic pan of brownies and an even more epic jar of salted caramel sauce this weekend, because, well, I wanted to. At thirty years old, I still have the sweet tooth of my four-year-old self on Halloween. Sigh. It’s my cross to bear, and I handle it by making delicious salads, like this one, after indulging in a weekend of decadent treats.
This salad is light, yet satisfying, vegetarian and really lovely for fall. It starts with a base of peppery arugula, but you can totally use spinach if you prefer. Then, just sprinkle on some toasted pearl couscous, roasted parsnips and chopped beets. Last, but not least, generously drizzle the salad with my new favorite fall dressing, maple-mustard vinaigrette. With just over a handful of ingredients, you can enjoy this simple and flavorful salad for your next lunch or dinner!
Now that the temps have finally dropped, I’m enjoying putting my oven to work almost on the daily. Since I’m not quite ready to turn on the heat, roasting food in the oven is a nice little way to warm up in my kitchen. This was definitely something I learned during my first few Chicago winters. Meal prepping and staying snuggly at the same time? Yes, and yes.
Roasted vegetables as a salad accessory require a little bit more effort, but I promise it’s worth it. I mean, look how pretty they are atop the arugula and toasted pearl couscous! And can we talk about toasted pearl couscous for a second? First of all, I love pearl/Israeli couscous. It’s absolutely beautiful in this salad and adds some wonderful heartiness and texture.
Toasting the couscous is easy, too, and just takes an extra couple of minutes. Simply heat up a bit of oil in a frying pan and toss in your couscous. Over medium-high heat, toast the pearls until they brown slightly while stirring every few seconds with your spatula.
Then all you need to do is add a cup of water and a pinch of salt to the pan, cover it with a lid, and set it to simmer for ten minutes. Ta-da! You’ve got yourself some toasted and tender pearl couscous ready to sprinkle over your salad.
Roasting the parsnips is a super cinch as well. Just peel them like carrots and chop them into one-inch pieces. Then, chop them in half so they can have a flat edge. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on your baking sheet.
If you’ve never roasted your own beets, now you can see just how easy they are to prep. Take your beets and trim off the stems and the little end of the root if you want. Then, just wrap the whole beet up in some tin foil, and you’re ready to go!
Yep, that’s it. No need to peel the skin before roasting either. After the beets have cooked and cooled completely, you’ll easily be able to peel the skin right off.
I put the parsnips and the tin foil wrapped beets onto a sheet pan and roasted them in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 375 F. This step is great to do the day before you assemble your salad, that way you know your veggies have cooled, and all you have to do is make the couscous and vinaigrette.
For the dressing, just mix all of the ingredients together until well blended. I love to use my tiny whisk for this. It’s the perfect tool for making homemade salad dressings.
All that’s left to do is assemble your fabulous salad, and enjoy! And just a friendly reminder about beets – they are messy as all heck and will stain everything you come into contact with! Just in case, don’t wear anything you love while you prep this!
With that, I’ll leave you to channel your inner Dwight Schrute, Beet Farmer (any “The Office” fans?) and make this salad!
- For The Salad:
- 2 Parsnips
- 2-4 Beets
- ⅓ C. Couscous
- 1 C. Water
- Bunch, Arugula
- Olive oil, salt & pepper
- For the Dressing
- 4 TBS. Olive oil
- 2 TBS. Apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBS. Maple syrup
- 2 tsp. Whole Grain Mustard
- ½ tsp. dried parsley
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Wash, peel, and slice the parsnips into one-inch pieces. (I like to cut each piece in half so they have a flat edge, but you can leave them in one-inch pieces if you prefer.)
- Trim the stems and bottom of the root off of the beets.
- Wrap each beet tightly in a piece of tin foil, and place them on a baking sheet with the chopped parsnips.
- Toss the chopped parsnips in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast the vegetables in the oven for 40-45 minutes until cooked and tender.
- Once cooked, allow the vegetables to cool completely before, peeling, and chopping the beets.
- For the couscous: Heat 1 TBS of oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the dry couscous and toast in the pan for about 3-5 minutes while stirring with a spatula.
- Once the couscous has toasted, add 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt to the pan and bring to a boil.
- Cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender.
- For the dressing: Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.
- Prepare your salad by laying a bed of arugula on a plate. Top with the toasted couscous, chopped roasted parsnips and chopped roasted beets.
- Drizzle generously with the maple-mustard dressing.