In the region of North Africa known as Maghreb couscous is eaten daily. The people of Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania use this tiny pasta made from semolina to accompany stews of meat, vegetables and fruit. Easy to make according to these videos, SBS Tunisian couscous and NYTimes homemade couscous, I have never tried to make it from scratch and opt for the instant variety commonly found in shops and supermarkets. It’s a versatile pasta to use, taking on any flavours you care to add. I especially love it with roasted veg, lots of fresh herbs, feta, olives and a lemon dressing. It’s also great with a tagine of chicken or fish, but equally as good with what’s at hand, like my roast garlic, asparagus and broadbean couscous with haloumi, mint and lemon dressing.
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- boiling water
- 1 1/2 tsp powered vegetable stock or salt
- 200 g bunch asparagus, sliced
- 1 cup of shelled broad beans
- 300 g haloumi cheese, cut in 5mm thick slices
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, torn
- 8 cloves garlic, roasted
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 preserved lemon, finely diced (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
Place the couscous in a large bowl and use your hands to rub the olive oil into the couscous until evenly coated. Add 2 tsp of powdered stock or salt and pour boiling water over until the couscous is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a fitted lid and let the couscous soak up the liquid.
In the meantime, bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil. Add the asparagus and broad beans and cook until al dente. Drain.
In a med frying pan or griddle pan, cook the haloumi in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Using an clean lidded jar, add the olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. Tighten the lid and give the dressing a good shake. Alternatively you can mix this in a small cup or bowl, but the beauty of reusing jars is that it’s easy to mix and any leftover dressing can be stored safely in the fridge.
To make the salad I like to firstly fluff the couscous with a fork before adding the warm vegetables, cheese, mint and lemon dressing. Toss it through, or use your clean hands to gently mix it all together. Taste for seasoning, before placing it onto a serving plate finishing with a squeeze of lemon.