To me, a good weeknight dinner is all about balance. There needs to be protein, vegetables and a starch, as well as varying texture and flavor. The most important aspect, of course, is that the dish comes together quickly. This hearty dish toes the line between salad and grain bowl and hits all the marks.
The bulk of this dish is pearl couscous. This hearty grain is often overlooked but it cooks quickly and can be used in so many different preparations, making it a great weeknight contender. Pearl couscous was developed in Israel in the 1950s as a substitute for rice. Despite the name, it’s not actually couscous and is actually made of wheat, making it closer to orzo or another small-grain pasta.
To cook it, start by boiling the couscous until the water is absorbed and the grain is tender. Add the warm couscous to the spinach and toss with a simple vinaigrette made of olive oil, white wine vinegar and honey. The warmth of the couscous will wilt the spinach and make it easier to toss. Finish it off with grilled chicken, fresh mango, red onion and sunflower seeds.
This dish is a great meal prepping option — just wait to add the spinach until you’re ready to serve to prevent any browning. The rest of the ingredients, including the vinaigrette, can be mixed in advance.
Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it.
Technique Tip: To add more flavor to the couscous, cook it in your stock of choice (like vegetable or chicken stock) instead of water.
Swap Option: This salad works well with any grilled protein like salmon, steak or even tofu.
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the pearl couscous, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes.2.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.3.
Place the spinach in a large serving bowl. While the couscous is still hot, pour it over the spinach and toss to combine. Add the chicken, mango and red onion, drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the sunflower seeds.