Moroccan salad splendour

Given the first part of my blog is dedicated to EAT; be it the art of eating, the food I eat or what I eat with I thought it timely to post my first recipe that is dressed to impress, takes no time at all to whip up and place on the table and is so flavoursome and colourful that it requires one post directly dedicated to it.

For Christmas last year, my niece gave me a book titled Made in Morocco; a journey of exotic tastes and places by Julie Le Clerc and John Bougen. Prior to the gift and apart from eating couscous here and there, Moroccan food was not a type of food that regularly graced my menu nor did I own a tagine. It’s a very beautiful book and on the front cover mounds of red and orange spices and purple and red flowers catch your initial eye. As I flicked through the book the first time I discovered that the ingredients were not too foreign or dissimilar and most were in my pantry already.

However it was having friends over recently that led me to this particular recipe as a request was put in for a vegetarian dinner. After confirming that some white fish could be eaten and some chicken here and there I didn’t want to have to settle with just a tofu dish so set about finding a main that was full of flavour yet still met the criteria. This recipe caught my eye because of the simple ingredients that were somehow placed together in an equation that resulted in a complex explosion of taste and instant salivation. It is great warm, cold, served as a side or as the solo bright-star main. Since the first time when the salad was literally licked clean from its bowl, I have made it a couple more times and the results have increasingly gotten better and better.

And the final clincher that confirmed that this couscous salad was an absolute winner was when I was at a recent cocktail party and the mother of my initial guest pointed at me from the other side of the room whilst simultaneously walking towards me with great purpose. It honestly felt like my hand was stuck in the cookie jar. I had never met her before so as she made sure I was the right person she was looking for and then questioned me in an interrogating but absolutely friendly manner albeit quite loudly “was that you who made the pumpkin couscous salad for my son? The one with those delectable raisins and almonds? Was that you?”

“Uh…..yes that was me,” I replied.

couscous with roast pumpkin, raisins and almonds – serves 6 lucky ducks

ingredients

half large pumpkin or butternut, seeds and skin removed

olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

one and a half cups  chicken or vegetable stock

one and a half cups instant couscous

half cup raisins

half cup toasted almonds

third cup chopped fresh coriander

method

Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Cut pumpkin into 2cm cubes and place in an oven pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once during cooking, until pumpkin is tender and brown.

Meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan and cook onion and garlic over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add stock and bring to the boil. Stir in couscous then remove pan from heat, cover and leave to steam for 10 minutes to soften. Remove covering and fluff up couscous with a fork. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine couscous with raisins, toasted almonds, coriander and hot pumpkin and toss well to serve.

smell, salivate, taste, savour and enjoy!


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