Couscous and Carrot Tops Salad

Bowl of cooked couscous with colorful veggies and greens

Every time freshly harvested carrots with their beautiful, green tops still attached are included in my CSA share, I’m inspired to find a creative use for them. When they’re crisp and crunchy, I toss them into salads, and if they’re looking a little “tired,” I cook with them. This crunchy, carrot top-inspired salad has toasty, nutty flavors and is great served warm or at room temperature. It makes a nice hearty meal or a side salad. Try pairing it with a grilled veggie burger and a fresh fruit salad.

 

Big Picture

All of the components of this salad are simple, but require their own steps. I just happened to have quick-pickled red onions on hand, and though they add a nice zest, they are not an essential garnish. Cucumber or fresh tomato would also work.

 

If you’ve never made couscous before, you’ll be happy to know that most couscous available in the U.S. is “quick cook” and takes only five minutes to prepare. Your sequence of events will be in this order: roast the chickpeas, prepare the couscous, chop the vegetables, pan roast the almonds in olive oil, and combine everything.

 

You will likely not want to add all the roasted chickpeas to your salad. Keep some in reserve for snacking or refrigerate the leftovers.  

 

If you have any fresh herbs on hand (like sage, rosemary, or thyme), chop them up and add them to your pan while you’re roasting the almonds. This opens up the flavors and seasons the olive oil you’re cooking with. When you combine the nuts with the salad, be sure to scrape the herb-infused olive oil into your salad and then drizzle the whole salad with a bit of olive oil and a dash of lemon or vinegar. Go easy though, because the couscous is fluffy and light and you don’t want to weigh it down. Just keep tossing and tasting and use your judgment.

 

Bowl of salad elements, unmixed. Chickpeas, almonds, and chopped carrots are visible on top

 

Ingredients (serves 6) 

Beans, nuts & grains

1 cup dried couscous

1 can (or equivalent) chickpeas, drained and roasted

 ½-¾ cup raw almonds, roasted and chopped roughly

 

Vegetables

carrot tops, approx. 1½ cups, thick stems removed, chopped 

1-2 carrots, diced

 

Roasted chickpea seasoning

olive oil, drizzle to coat

chili powder, pinch, optional

za’atar, small palm, optional

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Pan-roasted almonds seasoning

2 tsp olive oil

fresh sage, rosemary, or thyme, optional

 

Salad seasoning 

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

dash of fresh lemon or drizzle of apple cider vinegar

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

 

Roast the Chickpeas: 

Below is a quick basic reminder for how to roast chickpeas, or for more flavor options, read my full recipe for Roasted Chickpeas

 

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

 

Drain the chickpeas well and lay them out on a clean dish towel. Gently pat them dry and remove any loose skins that you notice (you don’t have to be too methodical about this). 

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim the parchment paper to fit the baking sheet (or smaller), because dry paper hanging off the edges of a baking sheet can sometimes get a bit charred and smokey.

 

Lay the chickpeas out on the parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil Toss by hand until lightly coated.

 

Roast at 425°F for 20-30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes and tossing with a metal turner. 

 

When they’re a little toasty and crispy, sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper and a small palm of za’atar, a bit of chili powder or the herbs and spices of your choice.

 

Cook the couscous & chop the vegetables:

Green leafy carrot tops on wood cutting board next to a bowl of uncooked couscous

Follow the directions on the packaging to cook the couscous. 

 

Wash the carrot tops and remove thick stems. Chop coarsely.

 

Wash and dice the carrots. Peeling is optional.

 

Pan roast the almonds

Chopped almonds in a cast iron skillet

Roughly chop up the almonds and any fresh herbs you have on hand. 

 

Heat the olive oil on medium-high in a cast iron pan or heavy skillet. 

 

Add the almonds and herbs, if using, and stir.

 

Continue browning the almonds, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes until you see some browning. Be careful not to burn. 

 

Toss everything together

Toss all the components of your salad together and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of lemon (or light vinegar). Salt and pepper to taste.

What is this vegetable and what do I do with it?!

 

Sometimes at the farmer’s market or in a CSA box you may come across a vegetable you’ve never seen before. Or perhaps you know the name of a vegetable but you’ve never cooked with it and aren’t sure what to do with it. That’s where our Veggie Gallery comes in handy! CLICK HERE to visit the gallery.

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