Herbed Couscous Salad With Smoked Mozzarella in Lettuce Cups With Creamy Basil Dressing

Serves 4.

Note: This dish is a perfect summer appetizer to take to picnics, or a meal to sustain you when it’s too hot for anything heavy. For gluten-free diners, make this with gluten-free brown rice couscous, or just substitute quinoa for couscous and cook for 15 minutes on low. For vegans, substitute smoked tofu or tempeh for the cheese, and use nondairy substitutes for the dressing. From Robin Asbell.

• 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

• 3/4 c. water

• 1/2 c. whole-wheat couscous

• 1/2 tsp. salt, to taste

• 1 c. grape tomatoes, quartered and sliced

• 1 small zucchini (1 c.), diced

• 4 oz. smoked mozzarella, diced

• 1/2 c. fresh basil, sliced

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 12 small bibb or butter lettuce leaves, separated, washed and dried

• Creamy Basil Dressing

(see recipe)


In a 1-quart pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil briefly, and add the garlic and rosemary. Bring to a sizzle over medium heat. Cook for just a few seconds. Add 3/4 cup water to the pot and bring to a boil, then dump in the couscous and salt. Stir and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork; it should have absorbed all the water. Let cool completely.

Add the tomatoes, zucchini, mozzarella and basil to the couscous.

Stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the lemon juice, and drizzle over the couscous, then toss to mix.

Carefully snap the base of each lettuce leaf off, then cup the leaf in your palm as you spoon about 1/4 cup of the couscous in each one. Place on a plate or platter. Serve with Creamy Basil Dressing to drizzle over the lettuce leaf.

Nutrition information per serving without dressing:

Calories 240 Fat 14 g Sodium 500 mg

Carbohydrates 19 g Saturated fat 5 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 10 g Cholesterol 25 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 starch, 1 high-fat protein, 1 fat.

Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes 3/4 cup.

Note: From Robin Asbell.

• 1 garlic clove, peeled

• 1/4 c. fresh basil

• 2 oz. chèvre (goat cheese)

• 1/2 c. plain yogurt

• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. black pepper


For a mellower garlic flavor, drop the whole clove in boiling water for 2 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove it. For the classic garlic taste, use raw.

Drop the garlic in the food processor with the machine running, until minced. Open the lid and add the basil, then process again. Add the chèvre cheese and process, then scrape down and process again.

Add the yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper, and process to mix well. Scrape the dressing into a medium bowl.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons:

Calories 60 Fat 5 g Sodium 160 mg

Carbohydrates 2 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 1 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 6 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 fat.