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Holidays, walks and who knows what

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Stephen’s Favourite Couscous Salad

Don’t be alarmed: one recipe post does not a cooking blog make. No, this entry is covered by the “Who Knows What” clause I slipped into in my subtitle. My ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card, so to speak.

Why then? Because various family members have asked for the recipe, and despite having previously emailing it to the nominal head of the family to disseminate, a couple of years on I’m still getting requests. And let’s face it: emails are easy to lose – unless you use Evernote or similar, or are particularly organised when it comes to recipes.

Stephen's Favourite Couscous Salad with a rather large lamb kebab (skewer)

Stephen’s Favourite Couscous Salad with a rather large lamb kebab (skewer)

Preparation time: 2hrs (less if you’re better at chopping – or less pedantic – than me)
Cooking time: 10min
Servings: Approx. 12

1 x 250 packet Pearl (aka Israeli) Couscous
Olive Oil
Sea Salt a couple of small pinches
~2tsp Black pepper, freshly ground
2-3 tbsp paprika (any type)
1 tbsp Garam Marsala
1 lemon, zest & juice
1-2 limes, zest & juice
1 medium carrot, extra finely diced
1 medium Lebanese cucumber, finely diced
1 medium red capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
1 long red chilli, finely diced
1 x 310g/420g corn kernels, drained
100g pine nuts
3/4 cup currants
125g Turkish apricots, diced
1 pomegranate (see notes below)
1/2 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely sliced
1 bunch of fresh mint, finely sliced
200g Greek style feta, diced

Cook the Pearl Couscous following the packet instructions. It takes about 10min on the stove. Stephen always does this bit, which allows me to start chopping.

Once the couscous is al denté, drain, return to the saucepan, drizzle over some olive oil, and stir to coat the pearls. Be generous but don’t drown them. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, Garam Marsala, half of the lemon & lime juice, and stir until consistent. Leave to cool.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients as described above and mix them all into your largest mixing bowl.

By now the couscous has had plenty of time to cool – use a wooden spoon and some more lemon/lime juice to separate the pearls again, then mix the couscous, remaining juice and zest into the rest of the salad.

Taste and adjust as required.

Will keep well refrigerated for a few days in an airtight container.

As a chopping guide, I like the carrot pieces to be about the size of a match head, and the cucumber and capsicum no bigger than a pearl of couscous.

Turkish apricots are plump and easy to dice. Cut each apricot into 6 or 8 pieces. You could buy a packet of diced apricot pieces to save a bit of time, but I always buy a larger packet because a few always seem to disappear before they make it into the bowl. Whatever apricots you buy, they’ll be plump by the next day anyway as they absorb juices in the salad.

Never bought or used a pomegranate? I like a large one that’s a deep pink/red colour all over with no dark or soft spots. Wear an old top, or at least an apron to avoid stains. Have a bowl ready for the molasses (i.e. the little gems you want to eat) and somewhere to put the skin and pith. Carefully top & tail – I also like to peel most of the thin leathery skin off mine. Cut out the pith at the end so you can carefully pull the pomegranate apart and pick out the molasses. Give them a quick rinse, drain and add them to the mix. I’ve often seen pomegranate molasses in a little container ready to use and have bought them once, but I’m not sure you get as many as when you buy a whole fruit. Yes, I know my method isn’t how Jamie (Oliver) does it, but I want all the molasses from my pomegranate, thank you, not just the ones I can bash out.

Spring onions: I just use the dark green end of a whole bunch because I’m not particularly fond of onion, but this salad would really be lacking if it were to be left out. If you’re not turned off by raw onion like me, maybe try substituting in a finely dicing a large red onion.

Feta: I cut the block of feta into pieces of about 5mm x 5mm. They’ll probably break in half as you mix the salad so don’t worry about cutting the block in half through the middle. I prefer Greek style feta as it keeps it’s shape better in the salad.

If you like your food hot, add some chilli powder into the cooked couscous, or maybe add two chillies or try hotter varieties. The recipe as described has just a hint of spice.

: )