No skills required except some chopping and the ability to make a kick-ass dressing - punchy and delicious. Perfect for post Christmas over-filled stomachs or a fast and healthy mid-week meal.
The North African staple of Couscous is a store-cupboard must sitting there quite happily at the back of the cupboard waiting until you need it. It's cheap, nutritious and easy to make.
These tiny micro-balls are made of steamed and dried Durum wheat so are not gluten free but they do provide a great alternative to pasta and rice. Couscous has no real intrinsic flavour but readily takes on other flavours you add to it.
Pomegranates, as well as being uber-trendy, have superfood properties and the advantage of brightening up your fruit bowl for up to 3 weeks after you've bought them. They make anything look beyond beautiful and have an incredible mouthwatering sweet and sour hit of crunch.
Add to this a cornucopia of fresh herbs and chopped veg and you're onto a winner.
Serves 2 as a main meal, 4 as a side dish
250g dried couscous
2 sweet baby peppers diced
6 radishes thinly sliced and halved
1/2 large red onion finely diced
3 sticks celery, stringy bits removed and finely sliced
6 baby courgettes thinly sliced
2-3 red chilies, de-seeded and thinly sliced
A handful of seedless green grapes, halved
1 medium bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 medium bunch mint
2 cm of freshly grated ginger
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 limes or lemons, zested and juiced
1-2 preserved lemons diced
Good quality olive oil
Dash liquid stock (chicken or veg)
French's American mustard
Salt and pepper
For the Salad
Finely dice your red onion and set aside in a small bowl with the juice of your limes or lemons, add some grain salt. This is an old Middle-Eastern trick used to take away some of the harshness of the onion flavour - particularly good for those who don't like raw onions but have to compromise with those who do!
Put your couscous into a bowl and just cover with hot water. I add a dash of liquid stock and some salt at this stage to flavour. Leave for 5 minutes and then crumble through your fingers to separate grains.
Get chopping all your veg and herbs. Think of the end result. What size do you want things to be when you eat them? Chopping everything to a slightly different size gives you more texture and a better visual. Preserved lemons are, for example, intensely sour and so you probably want smaller pieces; radishes and baby courgettes are beautiful so cut them to show off their colours.
Prepare your pomegranate. Firstly roll it around on a hard surface pressing down on the skin to loosen the seeds. Cut it horizontally and then use a kneading motion to get the seeds out. Do this over your bowl of pickling onions to ensure you keep any pomegranate juice. Discard any pieces of white membrane.
Mix your couscous, veg, fruit and herbs in a bowl.
For the Dressing
Add a generous amount of olive oil to your diced onion mix. Couscous is dry so needs lubrication and this is it.
Add in at least a tablespoon of American mustard (or Dijon if you prefer) - mix until the oil, mustard and lemon juice is emulsified.
Add in wholegrain mustard for pops of flavour.
Grate in your ginger. If you don't like bits of ginger, leave them out and just squeeze in the juice from the grated pieces with your hands.
Add your minced garlic, diced chilli, freshly grated pepper and citrus zest.
Taste - this dressing needs to sing on your palate! Be brave! Add to it until it does. A sprinkle of sea salt may help.
Mix with your key ingredients and serve.
Serve with cold leftovers from a big roast - any meat will be delicious.
Delicious with grilled salmon or griddled prawns.
To make this into a main meal why not add in crumbled Feta to your salad or serve with griddled Halloumi cheese?
Dukkah-encrusted chicken tenders are particularly good with it. Marinate some chicken tenders (be careful to remove that tough white tendon if it's still there) in some olive oil and a good amount of Dukkah. This Middle-Eastern mix of toasted aromatic spices and nuts is healthy and delicious and readily available in most supermarkets. Pan fry.