If you’ve been looking for an easy couscous recipe, this is it. The grains are plump, flavoured and colourful and are partnered by roast vegetables and chickpeas. An all in one dish that can be eaten on its own or made to go with a roast. You can use it as a starter and as part of a mixed mezze type spread, and it tastes good hot or cold.
The flavour comes from the lemon, giving a lovely citrus zing
Most people I know think making couscous is easy, just pour on boiling water and there you are. The result is not something I like to eat. If you’re going to make it like this, as least put a lid on the bowl, so that the grains can make the most of the moisture. The traditional method is to moisten the couscous with cold water, drain it and break it up with your fingertips, then steam it thoroughly for 20 minutes, put it into a shallow bowl, sprinkle it with cold water, oil your hands with olive oil and gently rub the couscous through (oiling hands again as necessary), add salt or other seasoning, and steam again for ten minutes. Done properly, this will result in the plumpest grains you’ve ever seen. Most people would like to cut out at least two of the stages. Some people are happy with the pour-on-boiling-water method. You decide.
In terms of this recipe, the couscous prep is a halfway house.
I’ve used a few extras to add something to the dish. If you want to use the Tahini, do make sure it’s mixed through well, as a lump is very claggy on the tongue. If you want to use a little harissa, add it little by little, as it can pack a huge punch – I usually use a dry mix, sometimes the harissa that comes in a tube (like tomato puree). You might fancy throwing in some finely chopped coriander too.
1 red onion
2 peppers (I like to get variety of colour)
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp paprika
400ml hot vegetable stock (or boiling water)
3 tbsp finely chopped mint
3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1 tbsp olive oil juice
1 tin chick peas
Sun dried tomatoes
1 tbsp tahini
Turn the oven on, to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6
- Peel onion and cut into wedges
- Deseed the pepper and cut into pieces about 2cm square
- Roughly chop the courgettes
- Crush and peel the garlic cloves
- Put all ingredients in a roasting tin, and toss in olive oil and season with thyme, salt and pepper
Cook for around 25 minutes, turning once (shake them around a bit), until the veg look browned.
While the veg are roasting …
- Put the couscous in a bowl (about twice the size of the couscous) and pour on the liquid, cover and leave to cool. Remember couscous can vary, so you may need a bit more or less liquid.
- Loosen the couscous with a fork – I like to wet my hands and rub the couscous the make sure the couscous is not sticking together.
- Stir in the lemon juice and spices and add the drained chick peas.
- Scatter the couscous over the roast veg, stir and pop the lot back in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped herbs and lemon zest, stir lightly and taste before adjusting seasoning and adding olive oil if needed.
Serve in a large bowl, as a stand alone dish or to go with roasts or mixed vegetables, or as part of a mezze type meal. Don’t forget some nice green salad with family dressing.
If you like a bit of a kick, add a small amount of harissa, mixing it with the lemon juice before stirring it in.
Adding a spoonful of tahini will make the dish richer, but make sure it is mixed through – warm it on the base of the roasting tin, so it becomes more liquid.
If you like the sweetness of sun dried tomato, add chopped sundried tomatoes and roast with the veg (soak them if you are using from dry, rather than from a jar).