Crisp apples and nutty whole wheat tossed in toasted hazelnut oil and fresh herbs. Topped off with salted pistachios. Simple and just right. Perfect as a side dish or for lunch.
For such a simple salad, I tested it many times to get it just right. Here’s what we know now:
Roasted nut oil works way better in this recipe than butter, both in terms of flavor and texture. The bougie side of me highly recommends La Tourangelle. It’s a little pricey, but a teensy bit goes a long way. If you can’t get your hands on this in time, use a mix of good olive oil with a smidge of toasted sesame oil (which is available in every grocery store, so no excuses).
A simple sprinkle of salt tastes better than a squeeze of lemon juice. This salad doesn’t need any dressing. You get all your flavor from salt, fresh herbs, and roasted nuts.
Tart apples, like Granny Smiths, are the crispiest and most refreshing. Don’t use a mushy apple.
Chopped pistachios can be overly crunchy at first. Let them rest in the salad a bit, and they’ll hydrate into a more tender bite.
Whole wheat Israeli couscous is the bomb. Seriously. It’s as healthy as whole wheat pasta, without the cardboard mouth feel. You can also use regular Israeli cous cous.
Last but not least, cilantro all the way! I cannot recommend parsley. I think parsley is just terrible. If you cannot eat cilantro, use fresh basil and mint.
P.S. You can throw in a few cranberries, raisins, or little bits of cheese if you’re into those things, but keep it light. This salad is best kept simple. Do not throw in chunks of roasted butternut squash no matter how tempted you are. I did that once and this salad is better without. Sometimes I add a dash of chili powder for heat, but that’s a personal addiction.
You might binge on this salad. It’s that tasty. But look at it! Green on green on… MOAR green! It’s totally ok to binge.
If you don't have roasted hazelnut oil or another flavorful nut oil, you can use 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil with 1/2 a tablespoon toasted sesame oil, which you can find in the Asian section of any grocery store.
This is also a great make-ahead dish, as it is very good chilled in the fridge. I've found that cilantro and apple will not wilt for quite a few days.
- Cook the Israeli couscous according to package instructions. Drain and briefly rinse under cold water.
- Mix Israeli couscous with hazelnut oil, maple syrup, salt, and ancho chili powder if using.
- Toss in the chopped apple, cilantro, and pistachios.
- Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Adapted from David Lebovitz's Lemon-Pistachio Israeli Couscous from his cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, with seasonal changes.
Very cool recipe! I don’t think I’ll find roasted hazelnut oil, but just the combination of couscous and apple is a great inspiration! Thanks 🙂
Thanks Howie! The hazelnut oil is a bit elusive, but any nut oil, sesame oil, or good olive oil will work 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!