Grilled Merguez and Onions With Mint-Lemon Couscous
In this summery salad, spicy merguez are grilled until seared, then served over a mound of couscous and vegetables that have been seasoned with herbs, cumin and plenty of lemon. Red onions wedges, grilled on one side only, are charred and caramelized in some parts while staying crisp and pungent in others. If you can’t get merguez (which are traditional North African sausages made from lamb, beef or a combination of both), you can substitute any other spicy sausages. Choose something with a bite to contrast with the juicy sweetness of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Note that those without grill access can easily use the broiler here.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2 ¼cups boiling water
- 2cups couscous (regular or whole wheat)
- 1 ½teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
- 2teaspoons ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- ½cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1red onion, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
- 8ounces merguez (lamb or beef)
- 1cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1cup roughly chopped mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1cup roughly chopped parsley leaves and stems, plus more for garnish
- ½cup thinly sliced cucumber
- ¼cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
Step 1Make the couscous: In a medium, heat-resistant bowl, combine boiling water, couscous and 1 teaspoon salt, and cover with a plate or lid. Let sit until the water is absorbed, 7 to 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Step 2Meanwhile, light the grill to medium-high or heat your broiler with the rack 3 inches from the heat source.
Step 3Halve lemons crosswise and then squeeze the juice from one half into a large bowl. Add cumin, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil. Stir in radishes and set aside to marinate.
Step 4Place onion wedges and remaining 3 lemon halves, cut-side down, in a grill basket and grill until charred on one side only, 2 to 4 minutes. Or place on a sheet pan and broil until charred, 5 minutes. Transfer onions and lemons to a cutting board.
Step 5Either on the grill, or on the same sheet pan as you used for the onions, grill or broil merguez until browned all over, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer sausages to a cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm while you assemble the salad.
Step 6When onion is cool enough to handle, dice it and add to radishes. Fold in couscous, tomatoes, 1/2 cup mint, 1/2 cup parsley, cucumbers, nuts and a large pinch of salt. Squeeze the juice from a charred lemon half into the bowl. Taste and add more salt and lemon, if needed. Slice merguez on a bias into 1/2-inch pieces.
Step 7To serve, spoon couscous salad onto a platter, then top with sausages and any accumulated juices. Garnish with remaining herbs and a big drizzle of olive oil, and serve with remaining charred lemon halves on the side for more squeezing.