Often, what you pair a dish with is every bit as important as the main element itself. You wouldn’t, for example, serve a steak and kidney pie with a bowl of steamed Basmati rice. Because we eat a lot of Middle-Eastern dishes, we get through a lot of couscous, but I have to be careful not to put the couscous on the table first, because my family love it so much they will just eat it all by itself.
If you are not familiar with it, couscous are small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina that is traditionally served with a stew spooned on top. You can also use it as the basis for a salad: just add some salad leaves, perhaps some chick peas and always, always (in my house), a little harissa on the side to add spice and heat. You can use ready-made preserved lemon and harissa, but I always use home-made – the links are in the recipe below – and the results are incredible.
This has to be the easiest recipe I will ever put on this blog, in terms of both simplicity and speed. I make no apologies for that, great tasting food doesn’t have to be difficult.
75g of dry couscous per person
just boiled water, 1.5 times the weight of couscous (so 112g of water per 75g dry serving)
1/4 tsp bouillon powder per person
some preserved lemon peel
harissa, to stir through
Weigh out the appropriate amount of dry couscous, depending how many people are eating. Put it into a saucepan for which you have a lid.
Chop up the peel of your preserved lemon, into 5mm dice. How much you use is entirely up to you, I tend to use the peel of half a lemon when feeding four.
Measure out the appropriate amount of bouillon powder (you can get vegan bouillon, if you need it) and stir it through the dry couscous. Add the chopped preserved lemon peel and stir it through thoroughly. Boil the kettle, and immediately after it has boiled add the appropriate weight of water to the pan. Stir thoroughly and vigorously and quickly put a lot on the pan. Set aside for at least ten minutes, the couscous will absorb the water and the flavours will mingle.
When ready to serve, fluff it up with a fork and transfer to a warmed serving dish if you like. We only ever do this if we have company, otherwise we dig in straight from the pan. Serve with whatever Middle-Eastern dish you fancy, with a jar of harissa ever-present alongside it.