Apricots, do you love them or hate them? I used to not think much of the fruit but the more I eat them, the more I like them. When they're the perfect ripeness, they can be sweet, although it's more on the subtle side. In order to intensify their flavor, I decided to grill the fruit and throw them in a salad with the most delicious chili jam vinaigrette. Even if you're on the fence about apricots, you may very much enjoy this grilled apricot couscous salad. The vinaigrette alone is delicious enough to give the recipe a try.
Grilled Apricot Couscous Salad
Chili jam vinaigrette
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- ¼ medium red onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 fresno chilies diced, seeds removed
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup pearl couscous dried
- 4 apricots fresh
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups arugula
- ¼ cup pistachios chopped
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ¼ cup scallions chopped
- 2 tbsp mint chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Make the chili jam vinaigrette. Combine the bell pepper, red onion, garlic, fresno, honey, and apple cider vinegar in a medium sauce pot. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. Let cool.
- Whisk together the jam with 6 tbsp olive oil until well combined. Season the chili jam vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Add 1 ½ cups water to medium pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous and bring it back to a boil. Cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook until the couscous is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff the couscous with a fork. Let cool.
- Preheat grill to high heat. Cut the apricots in half and remove the pit. Cut each half into 3 wedges for a total of 6 wedges per apricot. Gently toss the apricot slices with 2 tbsp olive and grill until charred on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Toss the couscous with enough of the vinaigrette to season thoroughly, you won't need all of it. Add the remaining ingredients including the apricots, arugula, parsley, scallions, mint, lemon juice, pistachios, salt, and pepper, tossing to combine. Drizzle extra vinaigrette if desired and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Since apricots tend to not be as sweet or as strong flavored as stone fruits, I wanted to incorporate a flavor packed dressing to this salad. What can be better than a homemade chili jam vinaigrette that's a little sweet and spicy?
To make the dressing, first, make the jam. Chop all of the vegetables including the bell pepper, red onion, and Fresno, and simmer it all together with honey and apple cider vinegar. If you want a spicier jam, keep the Fresno seeds.
Cover the pot for the first five minutes to allow the vegetables to soften. Remove the lid and continue to cook the jam until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Then, blend everything together until it's smooth. Let the jam cool before whisking it together with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance.
Now it's time to prepare the actual salad. Cut semi-firm apricots into wedges and gently toss them with olive oil. You don't want the apricots to be too soft or they'll just fall apart while they're cooking.
Heat a grill or grill pan to high and sear the apricots until charred. I like to use a grill pan when I grill smaller items so that they don't accidentally fall through the cracks.
At the same time, cook the couscous until tender. If you want to extra fancy, you can throw in a pat of butter into the water or cook the couscous in vegetable or chicken stock.
Combine the cooked couscous with some of the chili jam vinaigrette and toss it with the remaining salad ingredients including the fresh herbs, arugula, pistachios, and apricots.
One look at this grilled apricot couscous salad and I knew it was going to be a good one. Heck, one taste of the vinaigrette and I knew. Call me crazy but grilled apricots are just darn delicious!