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Saffron couscous

Serve this salad warm or cool as a main dish for 4, or as a main course accompaniment for 6. Either way, it is a flavoursome low–fat vegetarian dish that has real meal appeal. Saffron, which brings the taste and colour of the Middle East to the couscous, is available from supermarkets.

Saffron couscous

Ingredients

  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 large yellow capsicum, seeded and cut into wide strips
  • 1 large red capsicum, seeded and cut into wide strips
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise, then cut into 2.5 cm chunks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • harissa or other chilli sauce, to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • large handful of fresh coriander leaves, mint or parsley, or a combination of these, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
  • 10–12 saffron threads
  • 1¾ cups (325 g) couscous
  • 1 bay leaf, torn in half
  • ½ cup (60 g) raisins or sultanas
  • 20 g butter
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the garlic and oil in a small bowl and set aside to infuse while the oven heats.
  3. Lay the rosemary sprigs in a roasting tin and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, for the couscous, put the stock and saffron in a saucepan.
  5. Bring to the boil, then cover, remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
  6. Rub the capsicum and zucchini pieces with a little of the garlic–flavoured oil so they are well coated.
  7. Place the capsicums in the roasting tin on top of the rosemary and roast for 10 minutes.
  8. Add the zucchini and continue roasting for 20–25 minutes, turning the vegetables once or twice, until they are tender and slightly charred.
  9. Pour the remaining garlic–infused oil into a large bowl.
  10. Whisk in the lemon juice, and harissa and seasoning to taste to make a dressing.
  11. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl containing the dressing and add the tomatoes.
  12. Stir, then allow to cool.
  13. Bring the saffron–infused stock to the boil.
  14. Add the couscous, bay leaf and raisins or sultanas.
  15. Stir well, then cover and remove from the heat.
  16. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  17. Add the butter to the couscous and place over a moderate heat.
  18. Cook for 1–2 minutes, fluffing with a fork to separate the grains.
  19. Remove the bay leaf.
  20. Stir in the spring onions and season to taste.
  21. Leave the couscous to cool until just warm or allow it to cool completely, as preferred.
  22. Place the couscous on a serving platter.
  23. Top with the vegetables and any dressing remaining in the bowl, scatter the chopped herbs over and serve.
  24. Lightly grilled pita bread is the ideal accompaniment.

Serves 4
Preparation: about 20 minutes, plus optional cooling
Cooking: about 40 minutes



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