Fresh tarragon typifies green goddess dressing

Mint wasn’t the only fresh herb to make an impression in a recent ACCESS cooking class. Lacking fresh dill for Turkish-style zucchini fritters, I mined my garden for fresh oregano, thyme and some newly planted tarragon.

Tasting nothing like dill, tarragon is a flavor that many of us associate with seafood. Coincidentally, perhaps, I also season fish and shellfish with dill quite often. In our fritters, with some feta cheese, the substitution of tarragon was “inspired,” or so I teased my teaching partner who had lobbied for basil instead.

That dish left me wanting more tarragon, which found its way into risotto with green beans, pattypan squash, tomatoes and shrimp. Then I saw this recipe for Israeli couscous with green goddess dressing.

While I’d sampled both couscous and dressing before, I’d never made either. But I had some Israeli couscous in the pantry and my own ideas about how to make a better version of the classic dressing than the one detailed below.

Blending in half of a ripe avocado allowed me to cut back on the following recipe’s mayonnaise. I also substituted plain Nancy’s yogurt for the sour cream. Instead of anchovy fillets, I used anchovy paste, which I keep on hand.

Because I have fresh scallions in my garden, I used those for the salad instead of red onion. And the soft-textured couscous, I thought, needed a crunchy foil. So I stirred in diced lemon cucumber and jalapeno from the garden and skipped the grilled veggies. Ripe tomatoes were an obvious addition.

The results were tasty enough that I would definitely follow the recipe from Food Network Magazine as it’s written but also would adapt it to what’s fresh and in-season. The dressing, itself, easily could become my new favorite condiment, instead of our usual aioli for grilled meats, roasted potato wedges, steamed artichokes and, of course, green salad.

Tribune News Service photo

Couscous Salad With Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

2 anchovy fillets, patted dry (you can freeze the rest of the can)

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon capers

Juice of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup Israeli couscous

3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil, divided

1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise (discard stem, core and seeds)

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

In a blender jar or bowl of a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, chives and tarragon. Add the anchovies, garlic, capers, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. (You’ll only need 3/4 cup; save remainder for another salad.)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add the couscous and cook for about 8 minutes, until just tender. Drain in a colander and place in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place the red onion in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let stand for at least 10 minutes.

Place the peppers and zucchini in a bowl and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a little more pepper. Heat a grill, grill pan or heavy skillet to medium high heat. Grill or sear vegetables, turning occasionally, until well-marked and tender. Move to a plate or small pan and cool to room temperature. Dice peppers and slice zucchini into half-moons. Add to couscous.

Drain onion and the chickpeas and add to salad. Add 3/4 cup dressing and toss thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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