Couscous & Corn Salad

Today is my brother Fred’s birthday. This is a “bottom note” from At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking & Entertaining.

Fred’s Birthday
My brother, Fred, is a very successful corporate executive. Fred helped open Frog, but soon returned to corporate life in New York. We speak regularly by phone and see on another irregularly. Fred’s birthday is September 3. Some years ago, when his family bought a summer house on Long Island, I began cooking on Labor Day weekends for Fred’s family and friends. It’s a birthday gift I can uniquely give, and a chance to try new things for a small and appreciative audience. Highlights from this past summer include: steamed mussels with lemongrass and coconut milk with cellophane noodles; diver scallops with orange essence and basil oil; open-faced sandwich of grilled tuna, fresh herb mayonnaise, pickled red onion, sliced tomatoes and arugula (see page 360); and grilled butterflied leg of lamb marinated in honey, lemon and mint (see page 197).

This year things are too busy between the book and website and our starting to operate the daytime food services at The Franklin Institute next week. I look forward to next Labor Day and resuming the tradition.

Picture 4

Couscous & Corn Salad
Couscous and Corn Salad has been a Fred’s Birthday regular and has been passed along to Fred’s family to include in their  summer entertaining repertoire. Couscous is actually a pasta and not a grain. There are two varieties of couscous. One is Moroccan style couscous, tiny in size and seems much like a grain. The other is Israeli couscous, about the size of pearl barley with a texture much more like pasta. This salad uses the Moroccan style.

Do Ahead Couscous and corn salad may be made two or three days ahead. Re-fluff before serving. As with any pasta salad, the pasta absorbs the dressing as it sits. While not required, the salad would benefit from the addition of a touch more lemon juice and olive oil after it sits for a few days.

3 ears fresh corn, shucked with silk removed
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch scallion, medium chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, medium chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
6 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups Moroccan style couscous
2 cups water
1 cup olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Blanche corn for 2-3 minutes. Immediately stop cooking by running under cold water or plunging into a bowl filed with water and ice.
2. Hold one ear of corn vertically with the blunt stalk-end of corn down. Using a chef’s knife, shave off the kernels moving your blade from top to bottom. Repeat with rest of corn.


Next, holding the knife blade perpendicular corn, scrape the cob to remove remnants of corn and extract the “milk.”  Reserve. It all goes into the salad.


3. Place couscous in a large bowl. Bring water to a boil. Pour water over couscous and allow to sit as couscous absorbs all the water. Once the water is absorbed, fluff with a fork. This just takes a few minutes. For “extra credit,” make a corn stock by returning the scraped cobs to the water you used to cook the corn, simmer for 10-15 minutes and use this corn stock to cook the couscous.
4. Add to the cooked couscous, corn, onion, scallion, sweet pepper, garlic and cilantro. Mix well. Add lemon juice and mix well again. You want to add the lemon juice and mix before adding olive oil so that the couscous can absorb the lemon juice before being coated with the oil. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and mix again.


It’s nice to serve a salad like this in something low rather than a deep bowl.

Serves 8-12

Here’s the rest of your do ahead Labor Day recipes:

Tomorrow — Green & Yellow Bean Salad
Saturday — Grilled Eggplant & Assorted Sweet & Hot Peppers
Sunday — A Lemonade Alternative: Lime Rickey

This week’s blog is filled with great recipes to share with friends and family. It’s a good time to suggest they subscribe to the blog to save you the trouble of constantly emailing recipes. In the spirit of Labor Day — less labor for you!

We are about four weeks from having books in hand and starting to ship. If you buy your book(s) now, you will receive a signed, limited first edition.


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Filed under Entertaining at Home, Family and Friends, Holidays, Menus, Recipes

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