Couscous with Vegetables

This is a sort of combination of all sorts of published couscous recipes with my own touches. Here goes:

(Couscous to be cooked separately - either follow packet instructions or just pour on boiling water and let absorb, stirring occasionally, a few times over a 20 minute-half hour period. Do this with plenty of mixed herbs and stock - I prefer a vegetarian-suitable chicken flavoured stock, but onion or similar strong tasting stock would be suitable. You could put a few torn up basil leaves in for taste if you fancied, too. You will usually need about 2 and a half times the quantity of couscous - so 2 mugs couscous and 5 mugs boiling water.)

The thing to remember about this recipe is that it's basically build-your-own. Apart from onion and tomato, which are pretty much the sine qua non, you can just about take whatever you have in the house - adding some tinned sweetcorn a minute or so before you take it off the hob gives a pleasant bite to it in my opinion!

Prepare and slice vegetables roughly. I usually use:

  • 1-2 large onions
  • carrot (thinly sliced)
  • turnip or swede, in chunks,
  • sliced leek,
  • thinly sliced green pepper,
  • a few roughly chopped tomatoes (one recipe I have quotes a can of Italian tomatoes)
  • some sweetcorn, added as above
  • 2 mugs cooked chickpeas and/or ready-boiled chopped potatoes if you feel the need for extra body or protein in the dish.
  • Plus any vegetables you have in the house and want to dispose of.
  • You will also need oil or margarine, boiling water, herbs (paprika, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper are usually recommended, but I prefer the more fragrant mixed herbs + coriander), one garlic clove, raisins if you like them (I don't) and harissa, which is a pain to make so try to buy it from a Mediterranean or Moroccan store - some Indian stores will sell it, or just use a hot chilli sauce of some other variety.

    Put oil or marge in large saucepan, add chopped onion and some chopped garlic (the garlic is not essential), let cook for c. 3/4 minutes over a moderate light. Add the rest of the vegetables, except the drained sweetcorn and the tomatoes. let cook for a few more minutes, stirring. Then add enough boiling water to cover the veg, to help it along. Add some of the same stock cubes/powder you're using for the couscous. Add herbs of your choice and bring to the boil, then lower the light and simmer for about 15 minutes until veg. are softening. Taste and season/add extra herbs to taste. Here add chickpeas and tomatoes and sweetcorn. Allow to heat for another ten minutes or so, in the meantime adding some marge, a dash more boiling water and raisins if using to the couscous.

    Mix the harissa with some of the juice from your vegetable stew to make a hot sauce which can be passed around with the meal. To serve, heap couscous in the centre of the plate, ladle stew around it and pass the harissa sauce!