I happen to be blessed to live in an area that has multiple farmer's markets. I can visit nearby downtown Kansas City and enjoy the oldest market in the area, full of vegetable and fruit vendors along with shops selling Middle Eastern, Italian or Vietnamese spices and products. Or I can go to the smaller neighborhood markets closer by but not as much variety. Recently I visited the Overland Park Farmer's Market to check out the early spring offerings. Mostly it was bright flowers and vibrant herbs. Lots of non-food items that didn't hold much interest to me but then again, they have sell something when it's too soon for veggies. Still lots of folks shopping and when you have a ready crowd, it's always good to whet their appetite. That's when I found, Rachel, one of the good chefs of the Culinary Center of Kansas City doing a dish demo. Set up with her little gas burner and lots of space to chop and talk, I found myself doing a Pavlov's dog routine. The recipe she was making was grilled bison with couscous salad. Oh yes, it looked good. But no samples at the table, oh no, smart people that they are the recipe was a ticket back at their store where you could get a sample and shop or maybe sign up for a cooking class. You know I'm all about the free sample. It was wonderful, with the bison sliced really thin and the sweet tang of dried cherries. Turns out the sample wasn't enough so I decided to make my own. Happily they post their recipes online so if you'd like to try it out here is the recipe: Grilled Bison Steak with Caramelized Onions & Spinach Couscous Salad.
First a couple of notes. While it doesn't say it in the recipe, use the Israeli or large grain couscous. The smaller grain is fine but with something as robust as grilled bison, the larger grain seemed more appropriate.
Even if you don't use the large grain couscous, definitely add the dried cherries. Since you're already going to be at Whole Foods buying your bison steaks, go ahead and pop for their dried cherries. They are addictive by themselves but they really make this dish sing. That grilled bison is a hearty contrast to spicy mustard dressing on the couscous and the sweet zing of the cherries. This is really a great summertime dish. The couscous salad can easily be made ahead of time. Set it out while the bison is grilling and it should be room temperature by the time your meat is done .
Definitely not your normal backyard barbecue pasta salad but if you like breaking out of the rut of potato salad and hot dogs, this is the dish for you.