These little couscous cakes are a tasty and substantial accompaniment to a salad for dinner.. They are basically a cake of ground garbanzo beans and grain that's formed into a patty and pan-fried in just a little oil to give the cake a crunchy outer coating. The middle is chewy. Both the crunchy and the chewy textures go well against a fluffy tart salad. When I read the recipe's reviews, the flavor of the cakes was described as a little bland. So I took some liberties and doctored them a bit by adding finely chopped dried cherries and pine nuts to the mixture of couscous, garbanzo beans, garlic and herbs. All in effort to make a really flavorful couscous. Taste the mixture BEFORE you add the egg and make sure that it tastes good to you and is seasoned to your liking.
Also, I halved the recipe for the cakes (and the dressing.) It made exactly 4 (1/4 cup) cakes, 2 per serving. Next time, I would like leftovers so I'll make the whole thing . But just to try it, I would recommend starting with half. Sure, you're stuck with half a can of beans but you can use them on salad.
The salad in the recipe served alongside the cakes is just spinach, canned artichokes, tomatoes and a tart dressing of sour cream, lemon juice and olive oil. Reviewers didn't like the dressing but I thought it was ok on the completed dish. You need that acid next to the bean and couscous cakes, which actually ends up tasting a lot like falafel. And of course you could use any dressing you like. A yogurt based one is what I'm going to try next time I make it.
A good suggestion I saw in the reviewer's comments was to use quinoa instead of couscous and I will try that next time as well. Making these cakes would also be a good way to use up leftover couscous or quinoa. And don't forget you could also take the salad in different directions too, depending on the flavors in the couscous bean mixture. I was thinking with the cherries and nuts in my version of the cakes, I could have used some julienned apple on the salad and skipped the artichokes and tomato. But then I would have had to adjust the dressing too. Well as you can see, there is a lot of room for creativity here. Good choice for a Meatless Monday.
I also wanted to mention that this month's Body and Soul magazine has a great article on salads with some fresh ideas and recipes. Take a look.