Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Couscous with herbs & chickpeas

I've been sending the Young Man out before dinner just about every night this week to get more fresh herbs for our ongoing foray into Southeast Asian flavours. How lucky are we to have a supermarket that almost always has a stock of the usual herby favourites not more than 30 seconds outside our door (okay, I admit that I did choose our flat for its proximity to the "super", but that was way back in the day when parsley was about the only "foreign" herb you could expect to find fresh there).

Although this lively salad doesn't hail from Southeast Asia, the herb theme continues, so I'm sneaking it in anyway (call it blogger's prerogative (g)). The couscous, preserved lemon and chickpeas give it a Middle Eastern feel, but this salad is born and bred in Australia. It is from Marie Claire Kitchen, and is a total doddle.

I used brown chickpeas this time, as I seem to be out of the normal kind. They are slightly smaller than regular chickpeas, and only took 1 minute 40 seconds in the pressure cooker (after soaking since the morning)!

I also upped the ante with the lemon juice. I never can get enough of the stuff. That is on top of the preserved lemon (I used a quarter of a lemon, both peel and pulp).

We had this with pan-fried boneless chicken thighs that I had marinated for a bit in the juice of a lemon, 1 tsp of cumin, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a glug of olive oil and some S&P; a trick I picked up from Nigel's The 30 Minute Cook, a cookbook I could can't recommend highly enough (mine is falling to bits from use and it's only a couple of years old).

Couscous with herbs & chickpeas

(Note that Australian tablespoons are used in this recipe. Add an extra 1 tsp for ever tbsp if using non-Australian measures)

175 g couscous
1 tsp butter
400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed [S: or the equivalent of cooked chickpeas]
2 large, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 handful mint leaves
1 handful coriander leaves
1 handful Italian parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
3 tbsp olive oil [S: you can get away with quite a bit less]
2 tbsp diced preserved lemon

Put the couscous in a large bowl with the butter and cover with 250 ml boiling water. Leave the couscous for 20-30 minutes, from time to time separating the grains with a fork. Before adding the remaining salad ingredients, rub the cooked grains between you fingers to break up any lumps.

Toss the couscous and all the salad ingredients together and season with salt and ground black pepper.


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