I saw her. She was running after a lonely firefly, wandering in a field of wheat in the point of turning from green to golden-yellow. She was smelling the wet earth after a sudden thundery shower. She was lying on the white table, back in the garden from now till October. She was playing hide and seek in the silent hedgerows along my country road.
I saw her, Summer has arrived a month ahead of schedule! As soon as summer arrives, I give new birth to all the rituals I’ve kept dormant for many months in a drawer. At the first sunny days that drawer begins to quiver, my summer habits push to gain life and freedom, to stretch their legs and enjoy the season, as lazy lizards on a stone wall.
These are my rituals to welcome the summer season, I’d be curious to know if you have some rituals as well!
- Swap on my night table: no more wintry body cream, the nutrient, rich, full-bodied one, the one that resembles parquet glue. Welcome back light, fresh and fruity body lotion, the one that soothes my sunburned skin, relaxes my legs after a day outdoors and scents my nights with mint.
- Let’s change the music! I update my mp3 player with a new hit list. Goodbye great winter storytellers, such as John Legend, who warm you more than a pashmina blanket with their voices: my summer adventures will be put in music by Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson.
- No more make up: during the summer season my office becomes a glass house, so my mascara gets running and blends with my blush, making my face the modern edition of Munch’s Scream. As soon as I begin to sunbathe and the suntan colours my skin with a warmer and golden appeal, I allow myself just a touch of fruity lip gloss during the evening.
And so now, spread with a fresh mint body lotion, listening All summer long without a trace of makeup, I’ll tell you about a fresh and fruity salad that will be the sweet moment of my summer.
I really love fresh cereal salads during summer: usually barley, spelt and quinoa are the protagonists along with rice. Trying to find a way to realize a sweet salad, I spotted a half-opened couscous bag leaning on a cup full of strawberries, and I had a sudden flash of inspiration: a sweet and fruity couscous salad, with something crunchy and citrus inside and some stewed fruit to top it.
SWEET & FRUITY COUSCOUS SALAD
Ingredients to make the sweet couscous:
- 200 g of precooked couscous
- 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients to season the couscous salad:
- about 20 medium ripe strawberries
- 4 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons of Marsala (sweet Sicilian wine) to stew strawberries + Marsala to soak cranberries
- 50 g of dried cranberries
- 50 g of peeled almond, chopped
- 5 cocoa beans, chopped
- about 20 mint leaves
- Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Instead of adding a teaspoon of salt to the water, sweeten the water with 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and stir in one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Fluff the couscous with a fork and place it in a large bowl.
- Rinse the strawberries and cut them into pieces. Put them in a pan with sugar and stew them over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. In the last 5 minutes add the Marsala and let it reduce.
- Meanwhile, soak the dried cranberries with Marsala.
- Chop the peeled almonds and the cocoa beans, then stir them gently to the couscous along with dried cranberries, the grated zest of one lemon and the chopped mint: use your hands or toss the bowl to evenly distribute the ingredients into the couscous. Taste the couscous and if it’s not sweet enough add 1 up to 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Spoon the seasoned couscous into individual serving bowls and serve with a heaping tablespoon of Marsala strawberries, sweet and deliciously glazed. You can serve it warm or cold, I prefer it fresh, so that the flavours are well blended with the couscous but stand up individually in every spoonful.
As always, if you do not have the cocoa beans you can use chopped dark chocolate, to be added only when the couscous is cold. Instead of strawberries, choose any summer fruit you fancy, especially cherries. You can also add plenty of nuts, raisins, dates, figs, or exchange the Marsala with Vin Santo or maraschino … In short, I have given you the background, you can play with you imagination, summer is here just for you!