Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Couscous Salad with Mediterranean Vegetables

I was browsing The Passionate Cook blog, and tried this recipe from her site last night. The first line on her page reads "Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all". I like that. Cooking has become very therapeutic for me this last year. It's something I really enjoy, especially when I'm making a meal for someone else. 

This meal is healthy, filling, packed with flavor and offers enough for leftovers. What more could you ask for!? :) I think this would be a great meal to freeze as well. Also a great one to make for someone who just had a baby, surgery, or something else that gives the opportunity to take a meal. 

One warning: It does take a bit of prep time, so be prepared to stand in your kitchen for a while. Although.... I didn't use a food processor (don't ask me why), so I hand diced all the veggies. You could always prep the veggies the day before and combine them with the couscous the day/night you want to eat it. This can be eaten cold or hot, but I preferred it hot. 

Let's get started with the fun stuff! I placed the conversion info in parenthesis, if you're not familiar with using grams.  

Couscous Salad with Mediterranean Vegetables
Serves approx. 12 people as a side dish or 4-6 for a light lunch

Ingredients: 
1 medium aubergine (eggplant) - I forgot to purchase an eggplant at the store, so I used a yellow squash
1 medium courgette (zucchini) 
6 peppers (2 red, 2 yellow, 2 green)
1 pack mini tomatoes 
6 small red onions - my store didn't have small ones, so I just purchased 1 large red onion & it was plenty
100 g pine nuts (approx. 1 cup)
1 bunch of coriander (cilantro)
300 g couscous (10-16 ounces)
375 ml vegetable stock (1 1/2 cups) 
5 tbsp olive oil
7 tbsp lime juice (easiest to buy in the container)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cut the aubergine (eggplant) and courgette (zucchini) into dices of about 1 cm. Spread on a baking tray lined with a non-stick mat or foil. Sprinkle with sea salt and cook for 15 minutes at 400° F. Let me add in a note here: I'm going to type out the instructions as she did on the original recipe. However, she cooked at 220° C and of course we use Fahrenheit here. I believe the correct conversion is 400° F. Worked for me. Also, she says to cook the first veggies for 15 minutes, then add in peppers and onions, then cook for another 15 minutes. I noticed the eggplant (squash in my case) and zucchini were completely cooked within the first 15 minutes, so I didn't keep them in the oven, I  just cooked the peppers and onions separately. Try what you want, but I would recommend at least checking on the eggplant and zucchini before you cook them longer. Just a thought! :)

Meanwhile, chop the peppers and onions to the same size, add to the trays in the oven (^^ see my note above), spreading them evenly and cook for another 15 minutes, after which you add the halved tomatoes and leave in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and leave to cool. Note: each oven is different, so keep an eye on your items - 15 minutes may be a bit long. 

Pour the couscous over boiling vegetable stock and leave to infuse and swell up for 10-15 minutes. Fluff up to separate the grains by going through with a fork. 

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until browning and fragrant. Cool on a kitchen towel. 

Chop the coriander (cilantro) roughly, making sure to remove the thicker, tougher stalks. 

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl, making sure to scrape in any juices from the roasting trays as well, then season with olive oil and lime juice, plus any added salt and pepper to taste. 

This salad will keep for a couple of days, or you can freeze it. 

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