Ottolenghi’s Tomato Party Couscous Salad

Ottolenghi's Tomato Party Couscous Salad - quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It's perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics. www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It’s perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics.

It seems like a zillion years ago, but in reality it was September 2011, about six months into this blogging adventure called The Café Sucre Farine.

Scott and I had just arrived in London for a visit with our daughter, Cait and her family.

We had a lot to learn about blogging back then, but just like these days, we both had a love for great food and a fun outing for us often involved discovering delicious new restaurants, bistros, cafés, bakeries, etc. Before we left for London, I’d read about a little deli/café not too far from Hyde Park that was starting to get rave reviews. I emailed Cait and shared that it might be something worth investigating.

Our flight arrived in London early in the day and, after getting settled, Cait suggested that we check out my new “find”. It was a cool, crisp autumn day with clear blue skies as we walked to the Tube station (the London underground) and caught a train to Kensington. Once we arrived, there was a short walk, up a winding, shop-lined hill, then a left turn onto the narrow, cobblestoned Holland Street. Not far down the charming lane, we spotted a modern, red lettered sign above the window: OTTOLENGHI.

Oh my! Our eyes were wide when we stepped through the door and saw the dazzling array of artisan breads, fresh, vibrant salads, delicious looking sides, amazing entrees and out-of-this-world tarts, pies, cookies, bars, meringues… After much debate, we made our selections, and they were carefully packed in little brown take-out boxes. From there we made our way to Hyde Park for an incredibly delicious, never-to-be-forgotten, picnic lunch.

I’ve been an Ottolenghi fan ever since, although I had no idea that within a few years Yotam Ottolenghi would become a world-wide culinary celebrity. He has now authored four best selling cookbooks, Ottolenghi, Plenty, Jerusalem and the latest, Plenty More. Yup, I own them all and they are a continual source of inspiration for me.

Whenever we visit our family in London, a trip to one of the Ottolenghi deli/cafés or to his upscale restaurant, Nopi is always on our wish list. We never fail to be delighted with the fresh, ever-changing menus that are offered. The last time we were there, on a misty, quintessential London day, we decided it would be fun to make the trek to Ottolenghi in Islington (north London) as we had never been to that location. As usual, lunch was fabulous. Scott brought his camera (of course) and took some fun pics…

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Ottolenghi Restaurant - Islington, London www.thecafesucrefarine.com

I was paging through the Plenty cookbook a while back, and was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful salad called “Tomato Party”. I bookmarked the page, knowing that, as soon as tomato season rolled around, this one would be rolling out of The Café kitchen. Really, how could I resist a salad with the name, “Tomato Party”?

Ottolenghi's Tomato Party Couscous Salad - quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It's perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics. www.thecafesucrefarine.com

I love all the different varieties of tomatoes in this salad and the fact that some are roasted till sweet and caramelized and the rest are left to shine on their own. I  did adapt the recipe just a bit by making a simple lemon-garlic dressing, to keep the salad moist and add some bright flavor.

Ottolenghi's Tomato Party Couscous Salad - quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It's perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics. www.thecafesucrefarine.com

We’ve enjoyed the salad on it’s own, as a side with grilled chicken and in a pita wrap with hummus and shredded chicken. I’ve also topped it with crumbled Feta and a scatter of Kalamata olives and served it over baby arugula with a drizzle of Zoe’s Dressing. It would be perfect for a picnic or potluck, and is sure to bring oohs and ahhs when you uncover it, revealing the stunning array of tomatoes and tiny pasta.

Ottolenghi's Tomato Party Couscous Salad - quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It's perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics. www.thecafesucrefarine.com

The original recipe calls for regular couscous as well as fregola, which is a small round pasta originating in Sardinia. Fregola is not commonly found here in the U.S., so I substituted Israeli couscous, also known as pearl pasta or pearl couscous. I think the combination of the tiny regular couscous and the larger Israeli couscous makes for a lovely texture and really pretty presentation.

Ottolenghi's Tomato Party Couscous Salad - quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It's perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics. www.thecafesucrefarine.com

So… if you happen to be in London, be sure to put Ottolenghi on your itinerary. Not traveling anytime soon? Whip up a bowl of Ottolenghi’s Tomato Party Couscous Salad – it’s probably the next best thing! And you know what?  I have a feeling it will become one of your favorite summer recipes – it’s certainly near the top of our list!

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Ottolenghi\’s Tomato Party Couscous Salad

Ottolenghi's Tomato Party Couscous Salad - quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It's perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics.

5 from 1 reviews

Ottolenghi’s Tomato Party Couscous Salad – quintessentially summer, this fun pasta salad is delicious, healthy and make-ahead. It’s perfect for pot lucks, parties and picnics.

  • Author:
  • Yield: Serves 6-8
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Ingredients

  • For the dressing:
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the salad:
  • ¾ cup couscous
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups of small tomatoes, halved (use as many colors and varieties of tomatoes as you can find).

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Combine garlic, lemon juice, the 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Set aside.
  3. Put the regular couscous in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add 2/3 cup boiling water, stir and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside for 12 minutes, then remove plastic wrap and separate the grains with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  4. Bring a medium size pot of boiling water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon olive oil and Israeli couscous. Cook for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Allow to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, spread the quartered vine tomatoes over half of a large baking pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 400F. On the empty side of the baking pan, spread the yellow tomatoes. Season them with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Return to the oven and roast for 12 minutes longer.
  6. Remove the tomatoes from oven and allow to cool. Mix together the regular couscous and the Israeli couscous (pearl pasta) in a large bowl. Add the dressing, herbs, cooked tomatoes with all their juices, and the small fresh tomatoes. Very gently mix together using your hands. Taste for seasoning: add salt and pepper as needed.

 



24 thoughts on “Ottolenghi’s Tomato Party Couscous Salad”

  • This salad looks great. Can I prepare it the night before and serve it around 5:00ish the following evening?

    • Hi Jill,

      This salad actually gets better as it sits but to keep it really pretty, if you’re serving it for guests, I would keep the couscouses and the tomatoes separate and just combine them and the dressing just before serving. You could make it all in advance, just throw it together an hour or so before dinner.

      Hope you enjoy it.

  • I immediately thought how good quinoa would be with this salad. I applaud your idea for the dressing. I definitely do not utilize my Plenty book enough.

  • I love Ottolenghi. I have all his books and almost every recipe I have ever tried was amazing. I am so sorry I hadn’t heard of him during the time I was living in London, I would have loved to eat in one of his restaurants. The salad looks amazing.

  • I want to join the Tomato Party too! Wow, what a glorious salad, Chris. When my cherry tomatoes start to ripen, this is going on the list of things to make! How amazing it must have been to visit Ottolenghi’s cafe in London. Great photos!

  • Wonderful post! I too, love Ottolenghi. His cookbooks are amazing resources. I would love to have the opportunity to go to one of his restaurants. Sounds as though you had a great time. This salad would be the perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken…I must give it a try as I have a medley of tomatoes on hand!

  • I’m looking at your photo – did you use green tomatoes – as in unripe, or is that just the color of that variety? I think I will try to make this with quinoa instead of pasta for my GA (gluten avoider) friends.

    • Hi Laura,

      I actually found heirloom tomatoes that were ripe in that green color but the original recipe calls for a green, unripe tomato so I think either one would be fine.
      Hope you enjoy the salad.

  • I saw that the next book (NOPI: The Cookbook) is due to be published in the UK in September – with recipes from his restaurant NOPI and his head chef. Not sure of US publication dates.

    • Thanks so much Lesley for letting me know about the Nopi cookbook. We ate at Nopi about a year ago and the waitress mentioned that the book was in the process. I’ve been waiting for it ever since!

  • Thank you for reminding me that I have to get a Ottolenghi fix soon. I also have all his cookbooks and have done a few things and now that FFWD has concluded, I can turn more often to other cookbooks. All your variations look delicious as well. I am not very creative as to making my own adaptions but I sure know delicious ones when others, especially you, suggest them.

  • Will try this soon as my tomatoes are just now coming on at our ranch at an elevation of 4,000 ft. Sounds delicious and on spot for healthy eating!

    Tammey

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