Spring is finally here, and why not welcome it in with a light but fulfilling dish of spring greens and vegetables with a gorgeous avocado pesto? Exactly, we couldn’t find a reason not to either! Served at room temperature like a pasta salad this dish is just an easy-eating beauty that is a breeze to prepare. This Avocado Pesto Couscous with Spring Greens is a very green and vibrant dish that is packed with flavor, and we think these combinations are great for spring.
What’s in this dish?
Since the Green Goddess Salad trend is very popular lately, we wanted to explore a heartier dish that we would love to eat, especially one that is packed with flavor along with all the beautiful spring greens that are in season!
We begin this dish with Isreali couscous as the base. The couscous with the avocado pesto really adds breadth to the dish leaving you full and happy without feeling heavy or cloying. The addition of feta cheese and lemon juice bring a tangy, acidic balance to brighten everything up and the arugula adds a little leafy spiciness to the mix.
The vegetables are a great addition, adding both flavor and texture. The peas end up being about the same size and shape as the couscous, so the mouthfeel is tremendous when you bite into some couscous mixed with peas.
This is a great variation on a basil pesto that we know you will love. Also, it can be used in so many other ways beyond this couscous dish. We love using it as a dip, spreading it on toast for a fresh morning bite, or adding it to other pasta dishes.
The pesto is prepared last because avocados like to lose their beautiful green color faster than most fruits and vegetables. There is no reason to let avocado pesto sit around and slowly turn brown while you prepare the rest of the ingredients! And it is so quick to prepare, that you won’t think twice about this final step.
There are a couple of techniques worth a brief discussion here:
First, shocking the vegetables in ice water after blanching. Shocking does two things. The vegetables maintain their vibrant color when blanched and shocked. But most importantly, shocking stops the cooking process so that your vegetables maintain that nice crispness. If you cook asparagus to perfection and take it out of the water to sit on a cutting board, it will continue to cook with residual heat, leaving you with overcooked, soggy asparagus!
Second, cooking the couscous in butter before the introduction of the stock. This lets the couscous (a form of pasta) absorb a little fat and flavor and get a slight amount of light browning. In short, we are adding flavor to the dish with this technique, and we are always in favor of flavor.
We hope you enjoy this recipe for Avocado Pesto Couscous with Spring Greens! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below, or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
Looking for more recipes like this? Check these out!
- Goat Cheese, Spinach, Basil and Prosciutto Quiche
- Hearty Vegetable Pasta Soup
- Spiced Carrot Ginger and Fennel Soup
- Mushroom Ragù with Parmesan Polenta
Avocado Pesto Couscous with Spring Greens Recipe
- 1 ¼ cup frozen petite peas (or fresh* if available)
- 1 cup asparagus (pencil thickness) – cut into bite-sized pieces (1”)
- 5 petite canned artichoke hearts (about ½ of a 14 oz can)
- ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup mint leaves – whole if small or roughly chopped
- 2 cups arugula
For the Couscous
- 1 cup Israeli Couscous
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon high quality extra virgin olive oil
For the Pesto
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts* (55g)
- ¼ cup toasted almond slivers* (55g)
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
- 1 cup basil leaves (packed into the cup and stems removed)
- 1 avocado, pitted and shelled
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 oz extra virgin olive oil
For Garnish (optional)
- Basil and mint leaves – whole if small or roughly chopped
- Additional feta
Prepare the Spring Greens
- Start a pot of salted water boiling and get a bowl of ice water ready to shock the peas and asparagus. If using frozen peas (see note* for fresh peas), the total cook time will be about 4 minutes. Once the peas are in the pot, time out 2 ½ minutes, then add the asparagus (which will take 90 seconds). Remove the vegetables immediately after 4 minutes to the ice water bath to stop the cooking process and keep the vibrant green color.
- Turn the heat off in the pot of water and add your artichoke hearts for one minute. Remove the artichokes, quarter them, and set aside. This quick blanch takes much of the “canned” taste out of the artichokes.
Make the Couscous
- First, bring the vegetable stock up to a boil in a small, covered saucepan and keep at a simmer. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan (that you can cover) over medium to medium-low heat. Once the butter stops foaming, add the couscous. Cook the couscous for about three minutes to absorb some butter and get the slightest golden-brown color. You’re not frying the couscous, so don’t worry if the color is barely perceptible, the flavor is there.
- Right when the couscous begins to brown, turn the heat up on the stock to bring to a rolling boil. Carefully add the stock to the couscous, and immediately cover and turn the heat off. Stir once, then cover and let sit for about 10 minutes. Taste for doneness (al dente is the goal) and remove the couscous to a bowl. If there is residual liquid, strain it off. Add the olive oil to the couscous, stir and let it cool.
Prepare the Pesto and Assemble the Dish
- In a blender, add all the pesto ingredients except for the oil. Blend and then scrape the sides. Turn the blender back on and drizzle the olive oil into the pesto. Do this slowly at first and then you can increase the tempo – just don’t dump all the oil in at once. This should take about 1 minute to get the oil into the pesto. Taste for seasoning.
- Combine all the spring ingredients with the cooled couscous in a large bowl and gently fold in the pesto to coat. Thoroughly combine the mixture, garnish and serve.
Do you love our recipes?
We work hard to provide you with delicious FREE recipes here on Cooking With Wine. If you love and value our content and want to support our efforts, you can contribute whatever amount you are comfortable with below.Buy me a coffee
We will continue to provide you with recipes no matter what, so there is no obligation to contribute! Any and all contributions are greatly appreciated!
Thank you for being part of our community! You are the reason we do what we do!