With the eventual return of some hot weather, I've dusted off a favourite summer dish - jewelled couscous.
Until I googled it, I had no idea there were so many variations on how to make it. I've been using a single recipe from one cook book, thinking I was pretty fancy. Thanks intertubes - for making me feel like a right goose.
Here's some variations:
Something similar to what I make
A really short version of the recipe
Five different ways to mess around with couscous
Beetroot - why didn't I think of that?
Olives and tomatoes and other stuff
Here's how I do it. Since no one else in the house likes it that much, I generally make up enough for me for two meals on its own. However, it goes really well with lamb chops, fish and chicken cooked just about anyway you like.
1 cup couscous
1.25 cups of water or stock - or water with a stock cube in it
knob of butter
Get yourself a nice big bowl - you've got some mixing to do, and you don't want couscous flying all over the kitchen.
Put 1 cup of couscous in the bowl.
Boil the water or stock. Add the butter (so that it melts).
Pour stock/water and butter over couscous, mix it a bit with a fork and go away for 10 minutes. Or go away for 5, fluff it with a fork again, and then go away for another 5 minutes.
When I put the water on, I go and sit somewhere and peel pistachio nuts. Once it's boiled and poured over the couscous, I peel some more. The amount of pistachios that I end up with after 10 minutes of peeling is how many I throw into the bowl when the couscous is cooked.
You can add any nuts and fruit that you like. I usually fill a dessert bowl with raisins, toasted almonds, pistachios, toasted pine nuts and dried cranberries. Now that I have read the recipes above, my next version will probably include dried apricots and chopped dates - and a pomegranate if I can find one.
Whilst the couscous is taking 10 minutes to absorb the stock or water, you can also use that time to toast the pinenuts and/or almonds. If you've got three hands, you can peel pistachios and toast the nuts at the same time.
Zest an orange, and then juice the orange. Don't do this the wrong way round.
Once the couscous has had 10 minutes and you've fluffed it with a fork, throw everything into the bowl and mix it around. Splash some olive oil over the top and mix that in too.
I usually don't add any herbs or spices, except for coriander (if I have some in the garden). However, I like to chop up some mint, add it to natural yoghurt and have that on the side.
Chicken stock is better than water - with water, it's a bit bland.
Just remember the ratio of 1 couscous to 1.25 water/stock. Make as much or as little as you like.
You can add as little or as much fruit and nuts as you like. I reckon I added about 1.5 cups in total last night (I wasn't bothering to measure).
The orange juice along with the orange zest adds a nice sweet zing to it. If you prefer lemon, go for it.
Couscous on its own can be a bit dry after a while, so I like to eat this with something juicy. Last night, I chopped up a tomato, doused it with salt, balsamic and oil and had that on the side. I didn't throw in any basil, as basil tends to contrast badly with this dish (in my opinion).
I don't like eating this dish hot. Warm is good. Cool is fine. I just ate the leftovers straight out of the fridge - they were good too, but a bit cloying when cold.