Have you ever tried giant couscous? I hadn’t until recently, when I saw it on the supermarket shelves and decided to give it a go. I took it home, tried out a few ideas, and found that it’s a great substitute to rice or pasta in a salad. It can also be used in the place of regular couscous as long as you cook it first.
I came up with this salad and served it over Christmas as a side. Its flavours hail from the Middle East and, as a result, it goes well with most foods from that area. I particularly like it alongside a chicken, apricot and olive tagine I make. However, this is also a great dish on its own. It would make a great simple, healthy supper and makes a fantastic vegetarian option for a special occasion.
Using the couscous as a base I had fun adding flavours, textures and colours to make something that looks as good as it tastes. Here you’ll find lots of lovely fresh herbs, salty, sour preserved lemons and sweet dried apricot slivers. I’m not usually a fan of dried fruit in a savoury dish but the apricots in this work really well, slowly swelling and softening once the salad is mixed. The nuts deliver lots of flavour as they are toasted, with their crunch adding another dimension, and the pomegranate seeds add a burst of both flavour and colour.
If you can’t get hold of giant couscous feel free to substitute it with regular couscous or rice cooked to the packet instructions, if you wish, as these also work brilliantly in this recipe.
Warm Giant Couscous Salad
- 150 g giant couscous
- 100 g blanched almonds
- 100 g dried apricots thinly sliced
- 2 preserved lemons (pips removed and finely diced)
- 15 g chives
- 15 g parsley
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- Cook the couscous in lightly salted water, according to the packet instructions.
- Heat a dry frying pan on the hob. Coarsely chop the almonds then toast them in the frying pan, tossing them frequently and watching them closely so they don’t burn. When they are golden brown tip them onto a plate to cool.
- Finely slice the chives and chop the parsley.
- If you bought a whole pomegranate then cut it in half, hold it in your hand cut side down, fingers spread out, and bash it hard and fast with the back of a spoon over a chopping board until it releases its seeds. It’s wise to wear an apron for this unless you wish to add a pebbledash of pink spots to the top you are wearing.
- Once the couscous is drained add all the ingredients except the lemon juice and pomegranate seeds and mix together. Add half the lemon juice and mix, then taste and add the remaining lemon juice and any extra seasoning if needed.
- Spoon into a serving bowl sprinkling over the pomegranate seeds and serve whilst still warm.