Fresh, fast, gloriously tangy, no cook! One of my favourite salads to have as a main meal or at a BBQ. I serve it with fish, serve it with greek food, use it in my falafel wraps, basically it goes with any dish! Delicious!
Couscous, it’s been around since pretty much the dawn of time, literally! A quick google check tells me that someone was penning couscous recipes in the 13th Century, and apparently there are some couscous preparation pots in existence that point to couscous being munched around 200 BC! Amazing how we know this stuff huh?
So, if you are reading this and thinking what the heck is couscous? Well, it is made from Semolina and wheat flour which is steamed, so it is actually a pasta of sorts. It’s a staple of North African cuisine but is pretty much used everywhere now, especially in the vegetarian world as you can use it as a base on which to serve stews, or you can use it as a base for salads or you can pretty much substitute rice for couscous, and vice versa, in most dishes and you are good to go.
Up until recently I’ve always had couscous in the pantry, but have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. Basically, I find that if it’s not prepared properly, it can stick together and kind of form this gloopy mess or even worse it can stick together and create several weird masses of couscous. If you haven’t experienced this you will be thinking what is she going on about? Anyway, it happens, trust me, weird gloopy couscous or weird couscous stuck together, neither are anything you want to eat!
So, I have found that the best way to prevent weird couscous grouping or gloopy-ness, is to let the couscous cold soak in the liquid. Yes, it will take longer than plonking it in boiling water, but it will create a light, fluffy and amazing flavoured dish.
The cold, slow soak means that the couscous fully absorbs the flavours and ensures that it remains light and fluffy at the end of the process. The cold soak method now means that I look at couscous in a much kinder light!
Now, if you think, I don’t have time in my life for this cold soaking business and you insist on continuing to plonk hot water over the couscous then a little tip from me is to do it in a shallow dish (e.g. a casserole dish), that way the weight of the top couscous won’t cause the lower couscous to stick together as much and will be a little fluffier!
But, try the cold soak at least once, you’ll be surprised and what a difference it makes and how light and fluffy your couscous is.
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, or 200 g tinned tomatoes
- 1 red chilli (or more if you like spice)
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- juice from 2 lemons (or limes)
- 150 g couscous
- salt, for seasoning
- pepper, for seasoning
- 30g feta cheese (optional and definitely do not use if making this recipe vegan)
- Add all of the ingredients, except the couscous and the feta (if using), to a blender/food processor and blend until a smooth puree is formed.
- Add 150ml cold water to the puree and stir.
- Put the couscous into a mixing bowl, add the puree and mix well.
- Cover with plastic film and leave for 60 minutes or until the couscous has soaked up all of the puree and is light and fluffy.
- Season well with salt and pepper,
- Crumble the feta over top (optional and not to be used for vegan).
- Serve chilled.