July 12th, 2009

Couscous_Salad

North African Couscous and Pomegranate Salad

The glorious sunshine has finally made it’s appearance, the barbecue got a dusting and so did my salad bowl collection. Strolling through Borough market early on a Saturday morning my mum commented on the mix and match of cultures in London. This made me realise that we are very lucky indeed to have such a fantastic mixture of foodie influences from all over the world.

I paid my  regular visit to Brindisa to stock up on my favourite sherry vinegar and then off to Monmouth coffee for a caffeine fix followed by a stop at Neils Yard to choose a tub of goats curd and some Montgomery cheddar.

After a hard day’s shopping I do not intentionally want to spend many hours in front of the cooker. I love cooking but do not misunderstand me but sometimes dinner must be super quick. With my shopping bags unpacked,  my kitchen cupboards are gaping as I can not fit anything else inside. Even when I removed the couscous the door  simply would not close.

Not only do I love the ease of this recipe but it’s delicious and very tasty indeed. I like working with couscous, it absorbs flavours incredibly well and the texture is magical. It almost looks after itself, therefore perfect for me.

Now onto one of the great loves of my foodie life. A.R. Valdespino Jerez vinagre superior, a wonderful Spanish sherry vinegar, I have been using this brand for as long as I can remember. A dash of this magical vinegar transforms this dish and takes it into a different stratosphere! I also like adding a dash of Valdespino to lamb dishes as it cuts through the richness  of the meat and its fruitiness works like magic with the lamb.

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I bought a new jar of Ras-el-Hanout and sumac from the Arabica Food and Spice company. I love these guys and think their spices are brilliant, authentic full of power and freshness. A teaspoon of Ras-el-Hanout and a dash of Valdespino makes my couscous salad extra special!

This North African couscous and pomegranate salad tastes even better the following day. Making a bit extra does not go to waste as it’s perfect for my lunch box.

PomegranateCouscous1

  • 100g couscous
  • Boiling water
  • 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tsp Valdespino Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ras-el-Hanout
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Freshly cracked black pepper and salt
  • 100g diced dried apricots
  • Seeds from one pomegranate
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1tbs chopped fresh mint
  • 1tbs chopped fresh continental parsley

Place the couscous in a large mixing bowl, add salt and freshly cracked black pepper, ras-el-hanout, juice of one lemon, olive oil, sherry vinegar and the diced dried apricots and mix well.

Pour the boiling water over the couscous until just covered, stir and if it looks a bit dry add another dash of boiling water. Cover the bowl with cling film and let the couscous stand for 6 minutes.

Use a fork to fluff the couscous, if the couscous is a bit hard and dry add another dash of boiling water, let it stand for a further few minutes and fluff again.

While the couscous is absorbing the water prepare the rest of the ingredients. Wash the green pepper, cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut into long strips and then into small dice.

Chop the herbs and deseed  the pomegranate.

Once the couscous is ready add the diced peppers, chopped herbs and pomegranate seeds  along with the lemon zest. Mix and adjust the seasoning if needed.

If the salad is a bit dry add dash of extra virgin olive oil,  but only a small amount.

Serve with a sprinkling of the pomegranate seeds as a garnish and salad leaves such as miniature mizuna and mustard leaf.

Serves 6

Food Fanatics Tips

Add the apricots at the beginning, they will swell in the hot water, release their natural sweetness into the couscous and become soft.


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5 Comments to “North African Couscous and Pomegranate Salad”

  1. Colleen says:

    I made this last night after dashing down the ingredient list on the back of an envelope before heading out to buy groceries. After letting the flavours meld and develop overnight, I had it for lunch today and it was AWESOME!!

    The only thing I left out was the green pepper, as I only like it in tomato dishes. Very flavourful and a great way to use up the Ras-el-Hanout that has been lingering in my spice rack! I’m so glad I doubled the recipe; next time I’ll serve it with lamb.

  2. Nathan says:

    Excellent, thanks for the link Madalene!

  3. MsGourmet says:

    Loving all these flavours!

  4. nathan says:

    Is this Spanish sherry vinegar available in supermarkets? Or will i need to go to a good deli?
    Sounds like it’s worth a try.

    Hi Nathan,

    You can buy the Valdespino Sherry Vinegar from Brindisa at Borough market.
    http://www.brindisa.com/products/oils_and_vinegars/vinegar/?id=253

    Regards
    Madalene

  5. Lucy says:

    Mmm, that looks lovely. I have a neglected bag of couscous in my cupboard and I never know what to do with it! Yet everytime I try couscous that I haven’t made it’s lovely. Must try harder!

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