Chiller Challenge

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in Salad, Side Dishes | 6 comments

Chiller Challenge

Now and then we all stand in front of the refrigerator and wonder what to prepare for dinner.

Not me.

I plan every meal.

I measure.

I weigh.

I desire consistency.


Only just recently, I set control aside and allowed myself to look through the remnants in the garden, the pantry, and the “fridge”.  I keep random notes of ideas inspired by celebrity chefs or recipes I spot in magazines.











My niece, Holly calls her challenge “Freezer Fright Night”.  That truly alarms me!

When Ty was only a small boy my mother was watching over him.  I needed some bread crumbs for a meatloaf.  When I picked him up I asked her if she had breadcrumbs to loan me.  Of course she did.  Mom handed me a baggie from the freezer.

After all these years I remember her busted chuckle when I bemoaned how disgusting the meatloaf tasted.

Have you ever added graham cracker crumbs to meatloaf?

Tofu Tuesday transformed into a Chiller Challenge.

Jacqueline gave me a jar of  Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous before she returned to Montana for the summer.

I forgot to take a picture of spinach.  You know what baby spinach looks like.









Yellow cherry tomatoes from SoCo Farmers' Market and a jar of roasted red peppers.

Fresh Mint, Feta Cheese, and Smoked Paprika were standouts in a salad I saw Giada make with pearl couscous.

I believe Smoked Paprika needs to be heated to release its true depth of flavor.

















For the dressing, I heated 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 20-30 seconds; added the smoked paprika for another few, until it was heated through, then set it aside to cool.









Red wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in my wooden vinaigrette bowl.









Paprika oil goes in...









I have a secret.  I always add a little water to my vinaigrette.  It stretches the dressing without having to load it down with more oil.  Make sure you adjust it to your liking.  It may need more seasoning, vinegar or honey.









Toast the couscous in oil for a few minutes before









adding water (or broth) and a pinch of salt.

Cover and cook until the water is evaporated and the tiny pasta pearls are tender. Let them cool while you go somewhere until dinner time.








Chop the spinach, fresh mint, cube the peppers and slice the tomatoes in half.

See how red tomatoes would get lost?  Multi-colored heirlooms would be pretty too.

Add half of the dressing to the couscous and half to the vegetables









before tossing the whole thing together.









Garnish with Feta.

Whole Wheat Couscous has a dark nutty texture which MP and I find satisfying.

The fresh vegetable salad has an inexplicable complex smokey, salty, and bright flavor.

MP asked me to make it with orzo or quinoa sometime.

PIcnic? Potluck? Dime A Dip?

Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing


  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (to taste)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat pearl shaped couscous
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 4-5 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 basket (8-12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and cubed
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta


  1. Add olive oil to a small skillet with paprika. Heat the oil and spice for 30 seconds or so. Set aside to cool. Add to remaining ingredients and adjust seasoning.
  2. Heat the oil over moderate heat in a large saucepan. Add the couscous and cook stirring frequently until toasted, about 5 minutes. Add the water and salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and cook until the couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, and mint in a large bowl. Toss the couscous with half the dressing. Toss the salad with remaining dressing. Combine the couscous with the salad. Place the salad on a serving platter. Garnish with feta.
  4. Serves 6-8
  5. --adapted from Giada De Laurentiis





  1. 7-25-2012

    Sounds divine! !! And yummy!!

    • 7-27-2012

      Andi, Should this be one of the sides i make for your party?

  2. 7-25-2012

    Peggy, Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. Love the dressing!

    • 7-27-2012

      Glenda, I am hopeful you will try it!

  3. 7-27-2012

    I knew I gave that couscous to the right person! Only wish we’d been there to taste test…….sounds YUMMY!

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