Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Roasted Vegetables & Couscous Salad

Spring is in the air and enough of the meats and stews. Time for veggies and lots of them! This is a lovely colorful dish, a meal in itself, or great with a spicy merguez (lamb sausage), meatballs, or any barbecue. As flexible as this is to make, this can be served at any temperature. So you can prepare it in advance, or even just before serving, adding the vegetables fresh off the grill. We first had this simple, yet impressive dish at a friend's house one summer, and it has been a part of my repertoire ever since! However you choose to cook the vegetables, make sure the chunks/slices are large, to avoid over-cooking them... you can always cut them up into bite-sized pieces when tossing into the couscous. 

You can use millet or quinoa for as a gluten-free substitute.

Usually I roast vegetables while the oven is on for a roast or before or after I am baking. They are great for salads and for couscous. Simply chop vegetables up into large chunks and toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes at 400°F (200°C), turning occasionally. The vegetables are ready when they pierce easily when tested with a fork, but are not mushy. Zucchini/courgette and summer squash take less time than eggplant/aubergine and bell peppers. (There is nothing worse than green vegetables that lose color from over-cooking). Roast bell peppers whole, so that, when cool, you can peel the skin off easily. Discard stem and brush off the seeds inside. Season with sea salt and pepper before serving. If preparing in advance, let cool completely before storing. Add a drizzle of olive oil to keep the veggies from drying out.

Alternatively, you can grill the vegetables, on the barbecue or in a griddle pan:
Quarter the peppers and slice the eggplant/aubergine into 1/2" (10mm) thick slices, zucchini/courgette and summer squash lengthwise into 1/4" (5mm) thick slices. Brush with olive oil and season lightly. Grill for 7-10 minutes, until soft, but not mushy. Turn occasionally for even cooking. 

2 Tbsps olive oil, divided
½ onion, finely chopped 

½ tsp sea salt 
1 cup (175g) middle Eastern couscous (Israeli) 
Handful of raisins, optional
1½ cup (360ml) boiling water 

serve with pine nuts, chopped fresh mint, cilantro/coriander or parsley
  • In a small saucepan, over a high heat, add 1 Tbsp oil and fry the onions until soft and brown. Add the salt, couscous, raisins and boiling water. Stir gently. 
  • When bubbling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  • When cooked, fluff the couscous up with a fork. Allow to rest. 
  • Just before serving, stir in the remaining olive oil. Mix with pine nuts, chopped fresh mint, cilantro or parsley. Toss with chopped roasted vegetables.
VARIATION: For French couscous (the smaller grain), after adding the couscous and boiling water the pan, stir a few times, turn off the heat and cover. After 10 minutes, add a tablespoon of olive oil and fluff the couscous up with a fork. Season to taste and allow to rest until ready to serve.

If you want to get really fancy, make the coucous first, then stuff them into sweet bell peppers*. Place on a lightly-oiled baking dish, cover with foil and roast these at 400°F (200°C) for 30-40 minutes until soft.
*To prepare the peppers: Slice off a tiny bit of the bottom of the pepper, without making a hole. This is to prevent it from falling over, so even if you slice off the tips of the bumps, that will work. Use a sharp knife point to cut all the way around, and as close to, the stem of the pepper. Gently pull this off and rinse out the core and the seeds. 

1 comment:

  1. After spending a lot of time in Morocco, I have been looking for a quick & easy way to replicate some of the dishes there so will definitely try this recipe - it looks delicious !


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