Our little Christmas tree is up and the living room is decorated modestly but secretly I struggle to feel very Christmassy when it is summer time (despite having been south side for 12 years!). What I do love about Christmas here though is all the BBQs and potluck get-togethers where everyone brings a plate to share and catches up over some good food. This week we have two, one for Oscar’s kindy and the other at Playcentre.
It has been a mad week so I need quick and easy, but still delicious of course. I am on dessert at Playcentre so thought I might make a Quinoa Chocolate Cake but for Oscar’s kindy we have been asked to bring a savoury dish so I am going to make this couscous salad which can be knocked up in a flash. The veggies can be roasted the night before along with the sunflower and pumpkin seeds. If you haven’t cooked with couscous before you are in for a treat. It is ready in minutes and only requires minimal effort to make it something pretty darn tasty.
The veggies can be interchanged with what ever is in season. This time I am using aubergine, courgette, red pepper and this awesome purple asparagus I found in the veggie store this morning. I couldn’t resist, isn’t it fantastic? I have never seen it before.
Red onion, pumpkin, green beans and cherry tomatoes will all work well but the possibilities are endless.
If you are using aubergine though, start by cubing it and sprinkling it with a little salt. Sprinkling salt over the aubergine helps to draw out the moisture, which, can sometimes be bitter, particularly as the fruit ages. Set the salted aubergine aside while you prepare the rest of the veggies. After 10 minutes pat the aubergine dry with a little paper towel and add it to the other chopped veggies. Pour over a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, then toss the lot together.
Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and spread the veggies out on them. Try and space them evenly, this will allow them to roast and prevent sweating.
Roast them for 20-30 minutes turning once. The odd charred corner adds flavour so don’t worry if you have a few of those. You can prepare the veggies ahead of time but if you are making the salad in one go, you can get the couscous ready while you wait for the veggies. Into a medium bowl measure the couscous, spices, currants, garlic and olive oil then mix it all together.
Pour over the hot stock and then cover the bowl with a plate, allowing the mixture to steam for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes remove the plate and this is what you will be greeted with…
Using a fork, fluff the couscous tipping it into a larger bowl. Carefully add in the herbs reserving a small amount for scattering over the finished salad.
Add the roasted veggies to the couscous and gently fold them together. Meanwhile heat a small frying pan over a gentle heat and slowly toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Finally top the salad with the remaining herbs and the toasted seeds, it will serve 6-8 easily as a side and is delicious hot or cold. It will keep for 3 days and goes well with barbecued meats, fish, grilled halloumi etc. For a simple lunch just top with a dollop of greek yoghurt and some cold meat.
Roast Veggie and couscous salad
prep time: 20 mins, cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8, total cost: $9.50
- 1 aubergine
- 1 courgette
- 1 red pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup couscous
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground paprika
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 3/4 cup hot vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (I used a mixture of parsley, coriander, mint and lemon balm)
- 1 1/2 tbs pumpkin seeds
- 1 1/2 tbs sunflower seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by preheating the oven to 200’c. Cut the aubergine into 2cm/1″ cubes, place them into a medium bowl and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
- Chop the remaining vegetables into bite size chunks then place into a large bowl. Pat the cubes of aubergine dry with some paper towel and add them to the rest of the veggies. Pour over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil along with a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Toss the whole lot together and tip onto a couple of oven trays lined with baking paper. Be sure to spread the veggies evenly across the trays, then pop them into the oven to roast for 20-30 minutes. After about 15 minutes flip the veggies with a spatula to ensure even cooking.
- To prepare the couscous, place it into a medium bowl along with the spices, currants, garlic and remaining tablespoon of olive oil, stir to combine. Pour the (boiling) hot stock over the mixture then place a plate on top of the bowl and allow the whole lot to steam for 5 minutes.
- While you are waiting for the couscous, toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan, over a gentle heat.
- After 5 minutes remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork. As you fluff it fork the couscous into a large bowl. Carefully fold through the chopped herbs followed by the roasted vegetables. Taste the salad and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Finally sprinkle the remaining herbs and the toasted seeds over the finished salad.