Everyone on the Internet is buzzing about Ripe these days, but I've got to admit that I was kind of disappointed when I received my copy. It's definitely a gorgeous cookbook, but when you've only got one recipe per ingredient, I expect those recipes to be really special. There were an awful lot of very simple salads, fruit plates, and smoothies/drinks for my taste. That said, I'd have to say that the book is probably more intended to be inspiration than it is really creative recipes (although there are some of those in there) - and I do think it does that well, it's just not quite what I was expecting.
Still, taking it from more of an 'inspiration' point of view, I do think Ripe highlights some interesting flavor combinations and does get you excited for eating delicious fresh produce. After reading through the cookbook, I came up with this Israeli couscous salad based on the flavors in a few different recipes. I just kind of went with what sounded good and looked good at the grocery (I made this back in early spring when it was still orange season). Success! I ended up with a really tasty main-course salad that I probably wouldn't have come up with without the right inspiration. The oranges are bright and juicy, and pair perfectly with slightly sweet, crunchy fennel. Lamb sausage is one of my absolute favorites, but you could easily substitute sweet Italian sausage or an herb-y chicken sausage. I love Israeli couscous, but you can also use regular couscous or your favorite grain (you know I love my quinoa!) in this salad.
Israeli Couscous Salad with Lamb Sausage, Oranges, and Fennel
Serves 2-3 as a light entree
2 large navel oranges
1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
4 Kalamata olives, minced
1-1/2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (from about 3/4 cup uncooked), cooled to room temperature
1 rosemary-lamb sausage
1/2 large shallot, thinly sliced into rings
Several mint leaves, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
Feta cheese, crumbled, to taste
A small handful of toasted pine nuts
Salt, pepper, and/or olive oil, to taste
1. Supreme the oranges and squeeze out any remaining juice into a bowl (along with any juice that collects on the cutting board. Cut the orange slices into bite-sized pieces, and add to the bowl with the orange juice along with the fennel, Kalamata olives, and couscous.
2. Crumble the rosemary-lamb sausage into a non-stick skillet and cook until browned and cooked through. Remove to a separate bowl to cool. Add the shallots to the skillet (along with a bit of oil if needed), and saute until nicely browned. Add to the bowl with the sausage.
3. Add the mint leaves, lemon juice, feta cheese, and pine nuts to the bowl with the oranges and fennel. Once the sausage and shallots have mostly cooled (they can be a bit warm), add to the bowl with the rest of the salad and toss everything to combine.
4. Taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil to taste.