I’ve been waiting for this for months – next weekend, we get to wind the clocks forward and hold onto daylight a smidgen longer. No matter how old I am or where I am in my life, the day that we gain an extra hour of sun is still a very special day to me and brings with it a feeling of hope that is sometimes lost in the winter.
That one extra hour of daylight is everything I need to feel new again. I feel more motivated to run, eat well, and rest with the knowledge that spring is just a few blossoms away. Every spring seems different as I get older – I set new goals each spring before summer arrives. I set the goal to learn a new skill or come back to an old one each year. The warmer temperatures will also bring fresh local produce again. This time, I’m getting inspired early.
Around three years ago, I started running and began eating cleaner. Eventually I started visiting the farmers’ market near me and realized there were a ton of amazing locally grown foods around me. I discovered a new world of foods I had only heard about but not dared to cook.
For me, cooking with beets makes me nostalgic. I realize beets are not uncommon and fairly easy to cook, but I still found them intimidating until I visited the farmers’ market. I bought my first beets at the Copley market, leaves and all, and went home and practiced some kitchen experiments.
Now, I feel fairly confident with them – they’re sweet and very forgiving in the kitchen. Most wonderful of all, they always leave a beautiful stain on your hands and wherever they touch. For the couscous below, the beets dyed everything into a rich raspberry color.
If you’re turned off by the color, you can always go for golden beets – they leave a yellow stain instead. The vegetables used below are some of my favorite summer vegetables, but feel free to adjust to your liking or use whatever you have lying around. The same philosophy goes for the dressing.
It’s spring. Don’t let anything hold you back.
Spring Veggie Couscous with Lemon Herb Dressing
2 cups baby broccoli
2 cups uncooked couscous
¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Salt and pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic
Half a lemon, juiced
2/3 cup basil
1 tablespoon rosemary
¼ cup flat parsley
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove leaves off beets and clean with water. Wrap each beet individually loosely in aluminum foil. Place on a pan and roast for 50-60 minutes, checking on them every 20 minutes. When you can slide a knife in easily, then they are done. Take them out of the oven and let them cool before rubbing the skin off with a paper towel. Cut into ½” pieces.
Cut baby broccoli and zucchini into bite size portions and place them on a roasting pan. Peel the carrots and place them on the same roasting pan – the carrots will be roasted whole. Dress them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in the center of the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly brown. Let them rest and cut carrots into 1” pieces.
While the vegetables are roasting, follow cooking instructions for the couscous. Once it’s cooked, dress with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt.
In a small pan, toast unpeeled garlic cloves on low heat for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let them cool before peeling. Give the herbs a rough chop to release the oils. In a food processor, combine garlic, lemon juice, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper on low speed until it has emulsified. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Transfer couscous to a large bowl. Add roasted vegetables, toasted almonds, and dressing. Toss until everything is combined. With the beets involved, you’ll know once the couscous turns into a raspberry color. Taste for final seasoning.
This veggie couscous can be served hot or at room temperature.