I’m not sure why, but so far I haven’t been able to get my act together for 2010. I’m not completely discombobulated or anything, but I had hoped I could get into the groove of having my work lunch already made the night before so all I’d have to do was pack it and go. So far, no luck with that one unless I’m having leftovers. It’s not that big a deal, however, considering I’ve gotten really good at throwing stuff into a bag and hoping it turns out okay once lunchtime comes around. It worked beautifully for the Garbanzo & Avocado Salad from last month, and I feel it worked out just as well this time around. As I was flying around the house trying to corral StuKitty and give Hana her insulin (yes, I have a diabetic cat) before heading to work, I quickly packed an avocado (seriously, $0.67/each at Safeway last week??? I had to buy a metric ton), a small red onion, some dried couscous, and my one lone tomato, the last one I’d been hoarding for a couple of days just so I wouldn’t have to suffer sans tomato during the workweek. As an afterthought I also threw in a jar of pesto that came in my Foodbuzz Blogger Festival swag bag, remembering I was also sorely out of decent dressing ingredients. Surely this would work; pesto goes with EVERYTHING, right?
Now, I love making my own pesto at home and prefer to do that rather than buying it pre-made because it just tastes better. Alas, I haven’t been able to go to the farmers market in weeks because of the stupid ankle and refuse to buy dead, overpriced herbs at other stores, so I haven’t made homemade pesto in quite sometime. Fortunately, the pesto we got was no ordinary pesto; it came from Mezzetta, purveyors of delicacies such as fine olives, sundried tomatoes, and a wide variety of peppers, so I was not disappointed by its flavor & consistency in the least. My only issue with it is that it comes in such a small jar! But as with all quality ingredients & foods, a little definitely goes a long way, and after doing some research on pricing, this has to be some of the best jarred pesto I’ve tried for its price. It costs around $4.75 per 6.25 oz. jar, a steal considering other brands offer lesser pesto for about twice that much. So if you’re in a bind like I was and can’t make your own right now, I highly recommend trying the Mezzetta pesto.
Anyway, back to the food! (I got a little sidetracked there.) I couldn’t be happier with this little salad as it has everything Poor Girl could wish for in a recipe: flavor, health and value. I have also decided I will be using pesto more often to bless my food when I have no dressing options. I do that a lot with fresh salsa, using it on everything from salads to soups to rice dishes, and pesto is just as versatile. Though it’s a little on the fatty side because of the olive oil, parmesan and nuts, you don’t need to use much, so it’s a great way to add some flavor to your food without having to resort to mayo or sugar laden dressings. The combination of the crisp onion, smooth avocado and juicy tomato with the tender couscous is already a light, healthy winner in the lunch department, but trust me – the pesto makes all the difference in this one! Just be sure to bring a breath mint for later. :)
Pesto Couscous Salad (makes 3 servings; total cost per serving: ~ $1.05)
1 ½ c cooked couscous
1 large avocado
1 large tomato
½ medium red onion
1-2 T pesto (or more if you’re a pestoholic!)
Chop the avocado, tomato and onion into ½” pieces. Gently toss the veggies together with the cooked couscous, then add the pesto and mix until well-combined. Serve by itself or on a large bed of greens, and enjoy!