Antipasti Jewelled Couscous


antipasti jewelled couscous

Fluffy couscous salad, studded with rich antipasti and pistachios (if you can tolerate them) is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But it seriously has to be fluffy, there is nothing more disappointing than stodgy, clergy, water laden couscous!

You may be wondering about the sudden introduction of nuts on my site – well Little S passed a supervised food challenge and we’ve been ordered to introduce these nuts into her diet – scary stuff when you’ve lived in a nut-free house for a few years. Well, to be fair it shouldn’t be that scary, as the challenge was to nuts she’s never been allergic to, but we avoided due to cross contamination and, to be honest, a bit of fear. So the ‘challenge’ was really just an exercise to give us confidence with a few nuts. All good, and an important step forward, but not without problems. Where on earth do you buy pistachios, cashews and almonds which are totally free-from peanuts and sesame seeds?? Any pointers gratefully received!

So, we’re proceeding with caution, adding a few nuts here and there whilst at home (and trying to persuade her to like them, which is a whole other story…..). Hence, the couscous with added pistachios!

Best eaten at room temperature, this couscous salad/side is a perfect picnic or barbecue dish, just right at this time of year.

Antipasti Jewelled Couscous

(dairy-free, egg-free, can be nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan tomato and pepper couscous

makes one big bowlful, serves about 4

 1 cup couscous

1 cup water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp salt

4 sundried tomato halves, roughly chopped

1/2 jar roasted pepper antipasti, roughly chopped

3 spring onions, sliced

Large handful pistachio nuts (if can tolerate them, otherwise omit or use sunflower seeds)

  1. Pour the couscous into a flat-ish bowl
  2. Place water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Once boiling, pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.
  4. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the other ingredients.
  5. Serve

dairy-free couscous

Tapenade couscous salad


I’ve had a recent hankering for all things olive – I developed a taste for olives only in my mid-twenties and it was definitely a slow burner – starting off with eating one off a pizza to a nibble now and then. Now I sometimes just really want an olive or two!

This salad is delightfully different – bringing the concept of a vegetarian tapenade to a plate of giant couscous. It was partially about using up what I had in the cupboard but the results are a rather stunning salad and a nice contrast to a usual platter. I’d definitely recommend loads of parsley for added freshness and well as vitamins.

Tapenade Giant Couscous Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, fish-free, vegetarian and vegan)

tapenade couscous salad

  • 100g giant couscous
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200ml water
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives, I like Greek Kalimantan olives
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced or chopped
  • Large handful of parsley
  1. Soak the red onion in ice cold water to remove some of the ‘bite’.
  2. Dry fry the couscous in 1tbsp olive oil until golden. Pour in the water and balsamic and stir until absorbed. Taste, if not cooked through, add a little more liquid and continue to stir until cooked through (this will take 15 or so minutes)
  3. Drizzle over the oil, and a little more balsamic if you like, leave to cool.
  4. Drain and pat dry the onions. Stir all the ingredients into the couscous and ideally let sit for half an hour at room temperature for the favours to meld.

giant couscous with tapenade flavours - vegetarian

Moroccan Couscous


I’m trying to challenge myself. Some of my least favourite pulses are chickpeas and I’m mostly not more than luke-warm about any squash or pumpkin. So this recipe is a bit of a ‘leap of faith’ for me. In using flavours (Harissa) and textures (couscous and roasted onions) that I like in the dish, I was hoping to make the squash and chickpeas more palatable. Roasting them gives a wonderfully sweet flavour and the robust spicing overwhelms the bits I don’t like in the veg. It looks wonderful piled high on a platter and works equally well as a salad, side or even main dish. Can I say I’m a convert? Well, nearly! Just have to keep the variety going to pep your unloved veg. Hope you enjoy as much as I did…

Worth noting that this is the best, most foolproof way of cooking couscous I’ve ever come across – always resulting in tasty, fluffy grains in a flash. Couscous sounds like it should be so easy, but the number of times I have it off a menu and it’s been cooked terribly is shocking.

Moroccan Couscous (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)


serves 4

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 red onion, roughly sliced
  • 1/2 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Harissa paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Small handful if parsley, finely chopped

For the couscous:

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of any combination of lemon or vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

– Mix together the squash, onion, chickpeas, oil and Harissa and roast for 30 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade, tossing now and then
– Add the balsamic and cook for an extra 10 minutes
– Taste and adjust seasoning as desired
– To make the couscous: bring the water, lemon/vinegar, oil and salt to the boil
– Pour over the couscous and cover
– Leave for 10 minutes then fluff up with a fork
– Add the roasted veg to the couscous, pls the raisins and parsley
– Serve warm or room temperature




Roasted Vegetables and Couscous with Harissa

We spent the other weekend camping. As a rule I’m not exactly the keenest camper. I find it not very relaxing, well, quite a trial if the weather is at all bad and we just don’t have all the necessary kit, everything is usually damp etc.  This time however was a joy, a shady site in a beautiful location on a cliff top on the Dorset coast, all with wonderful warmth and sunshine. Very much a fair weather camper, me. Food requires planning and is always a challenge on a single ring gas burner! We managed with barbecuing and fairly simple pasta type food, but it got me thinking of good camping friendly foods. Couscous has to be perfect easy food – a doddle to make and freeing up limited burner space. Couscous makes me also think of Harissa, so here’s a fab recipe for Harissa spiked couscous served with roasted vegetables (or pan fried if you’re camping!) The Harissa packs a real spicy, aniseed punch, and obviously comes in a nice small camping-friendly jar. Instant flavour, and I think outdoors you want those strong flavours and spices. If you are not avoiding dairy, grilled or fried halloumi cheese can go very well with this.

Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Couscous (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)


serves 4

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps Harissa paste
  • 16 small shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 3-4 small courgettes, cut into small chunks
  • 1-2 peppers, cut into the same size as the other veg
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • dried herbs of choice, I used herbes de provence
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

– Toss the vegetables (except the tomatoes) in 1 tbsp olive oil, the herbs and smoked paprika. Season.

– Roast in a hot oven for half an hour

– Add the tomatoes and roast for another 10-15 minutes

– After adding the tomatoes pour the couscous into a shallow bowl

– Pour the water, oil, vinegar, salt and Harissa into a saucepan and bring to the boil

– Pour over the couscous, cover with cling film and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes.

– Remove the cling film and fluff up with a fork

– Pile the couscous onto a plate and top with the roasted vegetables.

– Serve whilst hot or at room temperature.


Jewelled Couscous

I keep on admiring the beautiful pomegranates in the shops – they look so tempting with the expectation of those beautiful little rubies inside. So, I’ve been thinking of a way to use these little jewels in an exciting way.

This jewelled couscous is colourful, tasty, and a great way to make a statement. Ideal served at room temperature as either a side-dish or a salad. A perfect little pop of colour in these bleak, cold winter months.

Jewelled Couscous (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)


serves 4-6

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 handful of sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1/2 a pomegranate
  • 1 handful sultanas (optional)
  • 1 large handful parsley, roughly chopped

– Pour the couscous into a flat-ish bowl

– Place water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

– Once boiling, pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

– Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the other ingredients.

– Serve at room temperature


IMG_3977 IMG_3984

Gorgeous Fluffy Green Couscous

This recipe is a bit of an amalgamation between Yotam Ottolenghi‘s Green Couscous and my Guaranteed Fluffy Couscous Salad. I think the mix works perfectly, with the slight tang from my ‘basic’ couscous enhancing the herby, nutty edge given by Yotam’s recipe.

This couscous is wonderful as a salad or a side dish – if pistachios are a problem for you, use seeds instead

Gorgeous Fluffy Green Couscous (dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4 -6

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely sliced and sauteed until browned
  • 1 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped (or use seeds)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 large handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful rocket, roughly torn
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin oil oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

– Pour the couscous into a flat-ish bowl

– Place water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

– Once boiling, pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

– Meanwhile, make a herb paste from the chopped parsley, coriander and olive oil.

– Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the herb paste, onions and pistachios.

– Taste and add the extra lemon juice and more salt if required. Stir in the rocket.

– Serve

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Roasted Vegetables and Herby Couscous

This sauce is blinding! Packed full of sweet roasted tomato flavour, it adds to many a dish. Think pasta, pizza etc. I Particularly like it served with roasted vegetables and herby couscous – a super delicious healthy supper (add chicken, halloumi or tofu depending on your taste)


Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 1 pack of ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • olive oil
  • seasoning
  • oregano
  • sugar

– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade

– Halve the tomatoes and place in a roasting tray. Add the sliced onions and garlic cloves. season, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs

– Roast for 30-40 minutes

– Pour into a liquidizer and blend. Add the tomato puree and sugar while it’s still whizzing. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Roasted Vegetables

  • any combination of peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, sweet potato, onions, aubergine, artichoke
  • cut into equal size pieces
  • place in a roasting tin and drizzle with oil, sprinkle seasoning and any herbs
  • Roast for at least 45 minutes

Herby Couscous

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • good handful of herbs

– Bring the water, oil, lemon juice and salt to the boil

– Pour over the couscous. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes

– Then fluff with a fork and fold through the herbs (check seasoning)