Chopped Vegetable & Couscous Salad with Black Olive VinaigretteThe best dinner salads have three key characteristics: contrasting textures, complimentary flavors, and an element of surprise. Adding a starch, like the couscous here, turns a grilled salad into a more substantial dish.

Ingredients of Chopped Vegetable & Couscous Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette:

For the vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black olives, such as Kalamatas
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and left whole
  • 3 medium zucchini, cleaned, trimmed, and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 small radicchio, core left in and cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 small bunch scallions, trimmed

For the couscous

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt; more to taste
  • 1-3/4 cups uncooked couscous
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint, basil, or flat-leaf parsley, or a mix
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste

Directions for Chopped Vegetable & Couscous Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette:

Make the vinaigrette

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, 1 Tbs. of the olives, and the mustard. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, making sure it’s emulsified before adding more oil. Whisk in the remaining olives. Season to taste with pepper.

Grill the vegetables

Tip: Heat a gas grill to medium high or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. (Be sure the grate is hot, too.)

Brush a light coating of oil onto the vegetables and sprinkle lightly with salt. Lay the whole yellow pepper, the carrots, and as many of the remaining vegetables as will fit on the cooking grate, directly over the heat. Grill, turning every few minutes as needed, until the pepper is charred all over and the rest of the vegetables are well marked and tender. Grilling time will vary: The zucchini, radicchio, and scallions cook fastest, the eggplant will take a little longer, and the carrots and pepper may take up to 15 min. more. As they finish cooking, transfer the vegetables to a large platter and add more raw vegetables to the grill. Continue until all the vegetables are cooked. Let cool slightly.

Make the couscous and finish the salad

  1. While the vegetables cool, bring 2 cups of water, along with the oil and salt, to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous. Stir well, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 5 min.
  2. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel and seed it. Coarsely chop all the vegetables. Transfer them to a large serving bowl and toss them with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.
  3. When the couscous is done, fluff it with a fork and add it to the vegetables. Add the remaining vinaigrette and the chopped herbs. Toss to distribute evenly. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make ahead tips :

This salad can be refrigerated, covered, for up to three days.

Nutrition information (per serving):

Size : based on twelve servings; Calories (kcal): 281; Fat (g): 17; Fat Calories (kcal): 155; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): 28; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 319; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 4;