Couscous Salad with Charred Corn and Basil

We planted far too much zucchini this year. Six plants to be exact (fools!), which is a lot for two people (our kids won’t touch it). So in truth I’ve been looking for any reason not to eat zucchini this week, and not to incorporate it into summer salads – which I realize is the opposite approach most people take. But here we are: a very simple corn salad that’s fragrant with basil, has a super simple lime-kissed dressing and some salty feta for good measure. I was tempted to add tomatoes or yellow squash but there’s also something really nice about just letting a few ingredients really shine. So that’s what this salad sets out to do.

Ever since Frances was a baby, she’s loved couscous so I used to must make it with broth and a little butter, but these days I can be a bit more adventurous, so basil from the yard snuck its way in. I’d planned to grill the corn but it just felt a bit fussier than necessary, so I cooked it in a hot cast iron pan with a little oil and shallot and it got nice and charred all the same.

Depending on where you live, we’ve got a good few weeks of corn season left, I think. And this salad is one to lean on as we enter this busy last blip of summer. You’ll find me harvesting zucchini, weeding the garden, getting the kids ready for back to school, trying to squeeze in one last beach day, and making homemade strawberry ice cream with Oliver – as promised. In many ways it feels like a race to the finish line, and honestly, I can’t wait for the cooler days and calmer cadence that awaits.

Couscous Salad with Charred Corn and Basil

Couscous Salad with Charred Corn and Basil

  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep time:30mins
  • Cook time:15mins
  • Inactive time:5mins
  • Total time:50mins

Ingredients

For the Salad:

2 cups Pearl (or Israeli) Couscous
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 ears fresh yellow corn, shucked
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil, plus more to top
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more to top

For the Dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Cook couscous according to package instructions. 

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk all the “dressing” ingredients together and set aside. 

In a large cast iron skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat and add the shallot and corn. Cook until fragrant and corn begins to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until corn gets a nice, light brown char (as if you’d roasted it) – be careful not to burn the shallot or corn here. Once done cooking, transfer to a large plate, spread out and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, mix together the couscous, corn, feta, basil, chives and dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Garnish with additional basil and chives. Serve room temperature; store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

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