Summer time is the perfect time for peaches and this baked feta and peach couscous is a great and unique way to eat them. The sweet and salty combination makes for a great vegetarian side dish for any meal.
While there are just so many ways to make couscous this has always been one of my favorites. With the salty baked feta and the peaches with a hint of honey you cannot go wrong. I have found that I cannot get enough of the sweet and salty combination and the great thing is that it isn’t too sweet. This healthy side dish is great for meal prep.
One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the baked feta. In most salads the feta is served crumbled and uncooked. It has a wonderful tangy and slightly salty flavor. However once it is baked it takes on a whole new profile. As it starts to brown you will get more savory flavors from the Maillard reaction as well as more salty due to how the cheese cooks and expels excess water. Feta will not melt in the oven.
Cutting the peaches
The recipe calls for three peaches all cut into 8 slices. Me personally I prefer to slice one of the three peaches a bit more. The reason for this is because I want peaches in every bite. When they are too big you don’t always get a nice bite. One of the peaches I will cut into 16 slices and then cut those 16 slices in half across the middle. This makes for spoon sized bites that will disappear into the mixed couscous. Also place these on the bottom of the baking dish to prevent scorching as they will cook faster.
Why toasting and baking works
One of the reasons why toasting and baking the ingredients in this recipe is so important is the Maillard reaction. This is when the sugars and proteins in food react with heat. This is one of the causes of the browning of food and also enhances and develops additional flavors. This is the reason we sear food before we eat, braise, or cook it low and slow. By baking the feta this adds additional complexity to flavors of the cheese and additional savory notes. The same happens when you toast the pine nuts.
Making the peach couscous
One of the things you will want to do is make sure that you mix in the peaches last. Since they will be soft after baking they could start to break if mixed in at the beginning. It is easier to mix all of the other ingredients first. Then crumble the feta on top and mix that in, then mix in the peaches. You can even reserve a few to place on top just before serving. Then drizzle with the aged balsamic vinegar.
Looking for other salad recipes?
Baked Feta and Peach Couscous
- Baking dish
- Mixing Bowl
- Sauté pan
- 1 cup couscous
- 3 peaches stoned, sliced into 8ths
- 7 oz feta block
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- 1½ tbsp honey divided
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1½ tbsp olive oil divided
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ tsp salt
Bake the peaches and feta
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. 200°C, or gas mark 6.
- In a baking dish add place the feta in the center and surround the feta with the peach slices. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the peaches and cheese and bake for 30 minutes.
Toasting the pine nuts
- In a sauté pan over medium high heat cook the pine nuts until they start to brown. Stir to toast the other side of the pine nuts and place into a bowl and set aside.
Cook the couscous
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and ½ tablespoon of honey. Stir to combine. Pour in the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Assemble the salad
- In a large mixing bowl add the couscous, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, parsley, and remaining honey. Crumble the feta over the top and mix. Add the peaches and gentle mix them into the couscous. Drizzle with the aged balsamic vinegar.