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Monday, 22 April 2013

Giant couscous salad with butternut squash and preserved lemons

I love giant (also known as Israeli) couscous – it genuinely makes things interesting, unlike regular couscous which can like a bit of a cop-out unless it is done properly. It is readily available, and I tend to use the Merchant Gourmet brand, because they stock it in my local supermarket and it comes in both regular and whole-wheat – I use whole-wheat.

This salad is fantastic – fresh, sweet and sour, kind of like the big brother of my favourite fruity couscous recipe here. I found it on the brilliant foodie website Epicurious, and I fell in love with the recipe because it includes the instructions for how to scale it up to 50 portions. And this definitely is a good recipe for mass-catering, or potlucks. The original recipe can be seen here

Serves 4-6

200g giant (Israeli) couscous
1 small butternut squash (or half a large one) peeled and diced into cubes no bigger than 1 inch
1 tsp cumin seeds
Olive oil
2 preserved lemons
Handful pine nuts or flaked almonds (or both) toasted until golden brown
Handful golden raisins or sultanas
Half a bunch of fresh parsley – washed and roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.

Rinse the lemons and halve them. Scoop out flesh, keeping both flesh and peel. Cut the peel into smallish dice. Put lemon flesh in a sieve over a bowl and squash with back of a spoon to extract the juice.

Toss the squash with 1 tbsp oil, cumin seeds and salt in a large oven tray and spread in 1 layer. Roast for 30 – 45 minutes, or until it is tender and browned in parts.

While the squash is roasting, cook couscous in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions, and drain in a colander (do not rinse).

Empty the couscous into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, plus the juice reserved from the lemons, the roasted squash (plus any tray-scrapings) and another tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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