It’s really good — and you can make it even better.
Whatever you think of Amazon Go — the grab-and-go market where Big Brother is your cashier (one open now, another on the way) — they know how to make a great couscous salad. Or, rather, they know how to make you make a great couscous salad. When I tested various meal kits a few months ago, the Charred Corn & Pearl Couscous in Amazon Go’s kit was the one thing that made me think to myself, “I really want to make that again.” The Za’atar Chicken it came with was just all right, but the couscous salad was citrusy from an orange-honey-mustard dressing, bright with fresh herbs, and full of still-slightly-crunchy vegetables. Out of all the dishes in all the kits, it was the only thing that got eaten up immediately.
It also made me think to myself, “Why would they put corn carved off the cob in this when corn is nowhere near in season? This would be way better in the summertime. Also, I wouldn’t exactly call this barely sautéed corn ‘charred.’ ” And: “You know what would make this actually great? Some feta cheese.”
I went by Amazon Go last week, and the Za’atar Chicken with Charred Corn & Pearl Couscous meal kit was absent. They rotate the offerings, which I suppose is nice — until you have a favorite and it’s gone. Luckily, meal-kit recipes are not rocket science to replicate. I saved the recipe card from the chicken-and-couscous kit, and as soon as I saw some corn at the grocery store, I thought, “Self! It is time.” (Welcome to my mind.) And now I have backward-engineered/upgraded the recipe for you. (And myself.)
Note that it is maybe one iota more difficult to make this couscous salad on your own than it is from a meal kit … maybe. The Amazon Go recipe still required chopping and cooking; the latter is arguably a little more summery-fun in this version, because here, we grill. (If you don’t have a gas one to fire up or a hot charcoal one lying around, you can just give the vegetables a quick sauté.)
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For what it’s worth, the Amazon Go recipe card offered this “HINT”: “To dice a vegetable means to chop it into cubes.” This insult to all of our intelligence seems, in context, directed at millennials, who may not know certain things but are not devoid of intuition (or, you know, are at least capable of yelling, “ALEXA WHAT DOES DICE MEAN IN COOKING?!”).
Yes, you must somehow obtain the ingredients — if walking through a store and selecting an orange and a zucchini is too taxing, just have them delivered by AmazonFresh! Or if walking through a store is too taxing but driving to a store is somehow not, just use AmazonFresh Pickup! (Don’t worry about the welfare of the warehouse workers!)
You will have to measure a little bit, which will cost you several minutes you’ll never get back. (A couple of uncooked couscouses escaped and rolled away when I was measuring, but fortunately my cat ate them. Crunchy! She seems fine.)
And while you won’t be contributing a bunch of meal-kit-packaging plastic to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there will be some actual food left over. In case you need some Amazon-style lowest-common-denominator hand-holding, here are some things you can do with it.
Red onion: Slice, grill and put on a hamburger. Or put in another salad, grilled or raw, diced (now that we know what “dice” means).
Honey, mustard: Make more orange-honey-mustard salad dressing and put it on salad. Put mustard on a hamburger. Put honey in yogurt, a smoothie, or tea, or save for fall and make hot toddies (Google “hot toddy recipe”). Eat honey with spoon.
Mint, basil: Chop and put in another salad. Put in a smoothie (no joke, it’s really good!).
Feta: Crumbled feta on top is the thing that makes avocado toast truly worth not being able to own a home for.
Olive oil: Also good on avocado toast! Or: “ALEXA WHAT CAN I DO WITH ALL THIS OLIVE OIL?!”
Amazon-Go-Style Pearl Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Feta
Serves 4 as a side dish
If you don’t have a grill, you can make step one a quick sauté in a large skillet over medium-high heat instead; follow the same directions (but don’t heat the pan until your vegetables are all prepped … ALEXA WHAT IS SAUTÉ?!). Serve with grilled fish or meat, or hamburgers, or lamburgers, or as a hot-day lunch or dinner on its own. Double the recipe and take to a barbecue to impress your friends! You made it yourself! Not to blow your mind, but you could throw other vegetables in, too, like halved cherry tomatoes.
2 small or 1 medium zucchini
Red onion (about ¼ cup total)
1 ear corn on the cob (white is sweeter/nicer)
1¼ cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
⅓ cup (or more!) crumbled feta
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup chopped chives
For the dressing:
1 medium orange (or half a big one)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
~¼ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
1. GRILL THE VEGETABLES: Heat the grill to medium-high. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut the red onion in half, slice off one round (about ½ inch thick), and remove its outer peel. Husk the corn. Put all the veg (use the slice of onion, not the rest) on a large plate or pan, add a teaspoon of olive oil, and shake/move around/use your fingers to lightly coat; sprinkle with a little kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper. Put vegetables on hot grill and cover. After 5 minutes, turn them, then grill another 2 to 3 minutes. Take off zucchini and onion; turn corn and grill it another 2 to 3 minutes. Take corn off grill and let all the veg cool.
2. MAKE THE COUSCOUS: Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous; return to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
3. MAKE THE DRESSING: Cut orange in half and squeeze juice into bottom of large bowl; remove any seeds. Add olive oil, mustard, honey, salt and maybe 10 grinds of pepper; combine thoroughly with whisk or fork.
4. CUT UP THE VEGETABLES: Slice/dice the zucchini into small-bite-sized pieces. Dice the red onion into about ½-inch pieces. Carefully cut the corn kernels off the cob with a knife (breaking it in half first helps).
5. MIX IT ALL TOGETHER: Stir the dressing again to recombine. Add the couscous, the vegetables, the feta and the chopped herbs. Mix gently to combine. If you can let it sit, refrigerated, for a few hours or overnight, it’ll taste even better, but if not, no big deal. Serve at room temperature or chilled.