By sheer accident, I discovered that quickly frying cooked Israeli cous cous in a frying pan ensures the grains don't clog together in your salad bowl. I hate the Clag glue-like clumps sitting in an otherwise pretty field of greens, so this discovery has been a happy one. This salad is made for Christmas. You can make ahead, stirring through the fresh herbs at the last second; and it's not going to collapse into a hot mess on your festive table.
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups cooked Israeli cous cous
½ cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
½ cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped
2 tbsp zaatar
2 cups green beans, trimmed
½ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup loosely packed mint leaves, coarsely torn
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ cup loosely packed delicate herbs – I used fennel fronds but you could replace with dill or basil
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup Persian-style feta
10 seedless dates, softened in ¼ cup boiling water
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients, including the water used to soften the dates, in a blender or food processor and blitz to a jam-like consistency. Scoop out into a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, cover and set aside until ready to serve.
2. Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and once hot, add the cous cous and the nuts, stirring constantly until the nuts take on a little shine. Add the zaatar and stir to coat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before adding to a large mixing bowl.
3. Blanch the green beans in boiling water (a quick plunge, you want to keep the crunch), then rinse under cold water. Chop into bite-sized pieces and add to the cous cous mixture along with the cranberries and the herbs. Toss gently to combine.
4. Add 4-5 tablespoons of the date dressing and toss to loosely coat. Alternatively, if you want to 'see' the dressing, you can add only 2-3 tbsp of the dressing and then dollop the remaining 2-3 tablespoons on top. This can look great because it's a thicker dressing.
5. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve*.
*If you are preparing this early, keep the beans and herbs separate and stir them through just before serving, so the salad retains the bright freshness the greens bring.
Tip: the Boxing Day leftovers are all the better after marinating overnight in the fridge.