Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
The secret ingredient to my award-winning chili is a hint of chocolate. I’ve been told that the famous Cincinnati chili joint—Skyline—use a cocoa in their chili. Several of us in the test kitchen are always trying to discover new, less common ways for the use to use chocolate in savory foods. This is really nothing new for us, we’ve made Cacao-Studded Prime Rib, Corn Cakes, authentic Mexican Mole and even an Italian Salad Dressing kissed with the taste of chocolate. Don’t laugh unless you’ve tried it.
But now that we are nearing the end of the summer (though you wouldn’t believe it here in sunny Los Angeles), who wants to cook in a hot kitchen? Since I must get my quota of chocolate each day, I chose instead to develop a couscous salad with a luscious (I love the sound of the word luscious when talking about chocolate) blend of fruits, nuts, herbs, and—Big Surprise—CHOCOLATE! The flavor is very complex, but still summer-like with the orange zest, toasted pistachios, chopped mint, dried cherries, and cocoa. If you think there a lot going on here; you’re correct…but all works well and you will find it fragrant and fresh as each ingredient holds its own in every bite. Together they become nothing short of a beautiful, sensational symphony.
The cocoa plays more of a supporting roll in this dish, rather than bold, center stage it plays in most desserts. The earthy cocoa acts more like a spice and produces a warm nutty background that balances the brightness of orange and mint. The best part is it’s so easy to make.
Cherry Pistachio Orange Cocoa Couscous Salad
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 2 to 4, but easily doubled or tripled
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon, extra virgin olive oil, plus
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dry small pearl couscous
1/2 cup shelled, salted pistachios, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons Choclatique Natura Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 tablespoon orange honey
- Combine the water, 1 teaspoon of oil, orange zest and salt in a medium saucepan; Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in couscous; cover the pot, and remove from the heat. Let it stand covered for about 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff the couscous lightly with a fork.
- Stir in chopped pistachios, cherries, cocoa powder, chili powder, mint and remaining tablespoon of oil. Add salt to taste. Taste and stir in honey if you’d prefer a sweeter taste.
- Serve it warm or chilled.