Tis the season for Texas citrus and spinach. Visiting the Sunset Valley Farmers Market this past Saturday we found a mountain of meyer lemons for sale. 2 for $1 grade A and 4 for $1 bird-pecked. The kindergartner picked 8 from the pocked patch. And Cora Lamar’s famous triple-washed savoy spinach, grown at Oak Hill Farm in Poteet, beckoned on Turkey Day despite the traditional table.
Now that (thankfully?) Thanksgiving’s dwindled middens have made room for the rest of Central Texas’ generous cool-weather bounty, you can relax and whip up this easy, brightly flecked and flavored dish, sized for a crowd. Just in time for yuletide merrymaking.
LEMON SPINACH COUSCOUS SALAD makes a large, “entertaining size” batch
- 2 teaspoons organic or local olive oil. Try Texas Olive Ranch.
- 1 smashed organic garlic clove
- a pinch or so red pepper flakes, to taste
- zest of 1 or 2 organic and/or local lemons
- 1 10-ounce bag Oak Hill Farm triple-washed spinach—$2.99 a bag at Central Market, or other local spinach, washed well if necessary
- 2 cups organic couscous. Most bulk departments stock this.
- 2 ½ cups water
- zest of 2 organic and/or local lemons
- ½ teaspoon salt.
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon organic butter. Organic Valley of course. Use your Whole Foods Whole Deal coupon for $1 OFF or click here for a coupon to use at another location.
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice from your organic and/or local lemons
- 3 Tablespoons organic or homemade white wine vinegar. I like Spectrum.
- 1 ½ teaspoons turbinado sugar. I buy this in bulk at Central Market. Don’t forget to bring your own container.
- about 2 teaspoons kosher salt–trust your taste. I use Diamond Crystal brand.
- 1/3 to ½ cup top-quality organic (or your favorite Texas-grown) extra virgin olive oil. I love Spanish Villa Blanca, not too preciously-priced at $9.49 for a 17-ounce at CM.
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- several scallions, sliced (optional)
- crumbled local chèvre or feta to taste, about 4 ounces. Try Swede Farm Dairy, Wateroak Farm, Maid in the Shade and Pure Luck for goaty goods and Full Quiver Farm for a feta de vaca.
Cook the spinach: In a very large (I use a 6-quart) saute pan or skillet heat the olive oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes. When they start to sizzle add the lemon zest and spinach, in batches if necessary. Stir and fold the spinach around the pan until well-wilted. Remove from the pan and spread out on a plate to cool.
Cook the couscous: In the same pan (don’t even bother to wipe it out), bring the water and next four ingredients to a boil over high heat. Dump in the couscous, give it a thorough stir and quickly put a lid on the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and let the couscous steam itself for 5 minutes. Take the lid off and fluff up the couscous.
Mix the Dressing: Combine the lemon juice and vinegar and stir in the sugar and salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Season with black pepper.
Assemble the Salad: Chop the spinach and stir it into the couscous. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss well, tasting for tartness (add more lemon if needed), sweetness (add sugar—organic granulated—if necessary), and salt and pepper. Lastly, gently fold in the cheese. Serve cold. Keeps well in the fridge if you’ve a mind to makin’ it ahead.