a simple summer salad straight from my mom’s kitchen! a bed of peppery fresh arugula is topped with israeli couscous & perfectly ripened tomatoes & drizzled with a simple homemade lemon vinaigrette & reduced balsamic. ready in less than 15 minutes, this simple summer salad is the perfect dish to share at a summer party or to serve for a healthy, fast weeknight dinner!
hey, hey you guys!!! i’m so excited to be sharing a new recipe with you today, for the first time in what feels like legit AGES.
it goes without saying, this summer has been nuts. between our annual trip to hawaii to visit my grandpa, leaving my job in order to chase my dreams, & launching sweet peas meals, holy cow! it’s safe to say this summer has been full of incredible, crazy, memorable highlights.
despite so much change & excitement in my life, my favorite highlights of this summer so far have surprisingly been the much simpler occasions: the unexpected quality time i’ve been able to spend with my family.
earlier this summer, my older brother got an amazing opportunity with a new job. along with it came the relocation of his family from their home in wichita, kansas to boston. & because organizing a cross-country move to a brand new city is hard & stressful enough on its own, my mom & dad stepped in to take in my niece & nephew for an epic summer vacation at gramma & grandpa’s house in order to help my big bro & sis-in-law focus on getting settled in boston. aren’t they, like, the biggest rockstar grandparents ever, or what?!?
& the really fun part for chris & me? we’ve been able to squeeze so much more auntie & uncle time into this summer than we ever imagined.
i got my 6-year old niece to help me bake peanut butter cookies & make homemade ice cream with me & gramma. uncle chris helped our 4-year old nephew paxton light sparklers, which made him squeal with laughter. they watched the big 4th of july fireworks snuggled at our sides (all while paxton was screaming “oh my GOSH, this is AMAAAAZING!!!!!” 😂). & most recently, last week, i took some time off to visit them during their trip to mall of america. we had lunch at the rainforest cafe & tried out some of the rides at nickelodeon universe, which included the most hilarious rugrats-themed bumper car experience i’ve ever witnessed.
seeing life through my niece’s & nephew’s eyes at this fun age is so incredible. it’s a pure kind of joy, & in the midst of this chaotic time, i’ve found the simplicity of quality time with my family to be incredibly comforting.
& the other best part about all of this quality time with my family? the food, duh! we’re talking some recipe testing for pwwb this summer (seriously amazing things in store!), the best peanut butter cookies (ever!), homemade ice cream, & grilled feasts with burgers, brats, & steaks. 😍
but the dark horse of all of this amazing summer food? my mom’s go-to summer salad these days: a bed of greens topped with israeli couscous, perfectly ripened tomatoes, & creamy fresh mozzarella.
oh hai there lover. 😍😋
mom’s summer salad is the kind of dish that highlights very simple ingredients at their peak of their freshness. it’s easy to throw together, leaves you feeling light & refreshed (aka leaves lots of room for ice cream 😉), & is beyond delicious.
light, summer food perfection.
in true daughterly fashion, though, i of course couldn’t help but put my own twist on mom’s summer salad. 😁 her version is amazing as it is, but i had to throw some of my faves into the mix, too.
like arugula! my mom uses steamed spinach, which creates the most delicious melty mozzarella situation with this salad, but i’m just obsessed with the peppery bite of good, fresh arugula. it’s the perfect bed for juicy cherry tomatoes & little pillows of israeli couscous.
i also make a quick vinaigrette with olive oil, honey, & lemon. it really doesn’t get easier than that, & the subtle hint of lemon really gives the arugula & tomatoes just an extra little pop of brightness. i think it makes them taste even more fresh, if that’s even possible this time of year!
oh! & also a heavy drizzle of reduced balsamic. 🙊 because i can’t not this time of year…seriously, is it just me or does balsamic taste better in the summer months?!
leave it as is if you need a side dish or a salad for a summer gathering, or toss on some thin slices of grilled chicken for an easy dinner salad perfect to serve to some girlfriends for an impromptu girls’ night.
oh! & don’t forget a crisp glass of rosé! it is summer after all! 💁🏻
give this summer salad a try soon & tell me – what food makes you happiest this time of year? are there any foods in particular that remind you of your family? what have been the highlights of your summer ’17 so far? let me know in the comments below; i’d LOVE to chat!! xx
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- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup israeli couscous
- 1 lemon, juiced & divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella (pearled mozzarella is perfectly bite-sized)
- fresh basil, thinly sliced for garnish
- optional: thinly sliced grilled chicken
- kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil a medium pot over medium high heat before adding in the couscous. Stir to coat the couscous with the olive oil and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden & fragrant.
- Add in 1 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let the couscous cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Once cooked through, fluff with a fork and season with the juice of half a lemon and a generous pinch of salt to taste.
- Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, & honey in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, taste, and adjust as needed. The vinaigrette should be tart and just slightly sweet.
- Arrange the arugula and season with a pinch of salt.
- Top with Israeli couscous, halved tomatoes, and mozzarella pearls. If serving with grilled chicken, arrange thin slices over the top.
- Drizzle on the lemon vinaigrette & reduced balsamic & finish with thinly sliced fresh basil.
- Serve with a crisp, dry white wine or rosé, & enjoy!