April 29th, 2009


English Garden and Giant Pearled Couscous Salad

When   Garden or chopped  salads are listed on a menu the words are vague enough to mean anything. It could convey  that it includes minimal ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce or could be a full-blown multi-ingredient offering. This terminology winds me up!

I have a passion for making brilliant tasty and good-looking salads. This passion is backed up by me creating a salad that matches the look and tastes of the ingredients . When I make a salad it should have plenty of goodies that makes it worthy of being on my plate.

Now to address the issue of the word “garden salad”; in this context I want it to be seasonal and packed with goodies from the garden.

Last week at work I made such a salad. In the ensuing discussion on the name of the dish, one of the chaps said it’s such an 80’s description. My response was that retro food was making a comeback in all its glory.

He agreed and we started talking about our gardens and he said why not call it “Old Mans Allotment Salad”. Well, I loved his description but I thought that a better name would be ‘English Garden Salad’ which suggested a full range of seasonal produce.

asparagusI wrote this recipe with specific ingredients but I would like you to substitute the ingredients for whatever you can find as the season progresses.

The giant pearled couscous is also a lovely addition as it does help to give the salad body and substance.

Please remember to have an  equal ratio of giant pearled couscous to the vegetables.

  • 150g Israeli Couscous
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g broad beans
  • 50g spring onions
  • 100g garden peas and the tops
  • 1 bunch of English asparagus, stalks and spears
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 2tbs chopped fresh oregano
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 2 breakfast radishes

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil; add the Israeli couscous and the turmeric. Cook the couscous like pasta until al-dente.

Refresh the couscous under cold running water and drain well.

In a small bowl mix the juice and zest of the lemon, olive oil and seasoning to form vinaigrette, pour the vinaigrette over the drained couscous.

Blanch the broad bean, refresh and remove their thick light green jackets.

Blanch the garden peas to al-dente and refresh.

Prepare the asparagus by cutting the tips from the stalks. Cut the stalks in thin rounds and blanch both eh stalks and tips, refresh.

Separate the leafy tufts form the fennel chop and add to the salad. Use a mandolin to finely slice the fennel.

Chop the spring onions on an angle.

Add all the ingredients to the couscous and gently mix.

Garnish the salad with the finely sliced breakfast radishes and pea tops.

Makes 8 – 10 portions

Food Fanatics Tips

I'm pretty fanatical about using as much of the produce as possible. For that reason I even used the pea tops from the pea plants, they truly taste of peas and look pretty too. When it comes to the asparagus I used as much of the stalk as possible however the very small bit from the bottom about 2 cm is very hard and not recommended to use. Remember this salad should be changed to suit what's avalable to you and change it as the season progresses.

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2 Comments to “English Garden and Giant Pearled Couscous Salad”

  1. April says:

    This looks absolutely wonderful and delicious–can’t wait to try it. And your site/pictures/food look beautiful, I’m having fun looking at all the wonderful food.

  2. Abs says:

    Ace. I’ve just managed to find Israeli couscous after a long search… in the kosher shop just around the corner. D’oh! This recipe is very timely – might well make it for dinner tomorrow.

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