Couscous-stuffed Red Peppers

Over the course of this term I have realised that cucumber, tomatoes and feta are approaching Holy Trinity ingredients for me. They pop up in my cooking together time and time again: in pastas, in couscous, accompanying salmon or chicken. They are my go to staples to flavour a salad and make a side dish more flavourful than just leaves. Lemon juice and olive oil are never far behind. They make me feel healthy without being too in my face and I always have them in my fridge, just in case. Today I wanted to try something slightly different then a regular salad – so I took my standard couscous and popped it in a pepper. Super simple, only takes five minutes longer than making the couscous itself and adds an extra portion of veg into my lunch (two if you serve it with green beans like I did). I’m not always a fan of red peppers (something about their squeaky texture) but cooking them like this keeps them super juicy and, well, plenty of feta can help just about anything. Enjoy!

Couscous-stuffed peppers

  • 2 red peppers
  • 100g couscous
  • 3tbsps olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g feta
  • 10cm cucumber
  • ½ red onion
  • small handful of basil

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Half the peppers and deseed, keeping the stalks intact for presentation if you like. Place on a microwaveable plate and microwave for 5 minutes until beginning to soften.

Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large bowl and just cover with boiling water. Place a lid or plate on top and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until the couscous is fluffy and absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains. Add the remaining ingredients, mix to combine and season generously.

Lightly oil a baking tray and place the peppers on it. Fill each half of the peppers generously with the couscous. Bake for 5-10 minutes until the peppers are fully soft and the couscous is just beginning to go golden. Serve warm.

Harissa salmon with lemon cucumber couscous

My food preferences rarely follow logic. When I was little, I loved jam in doughnuts, but hated it on toast (probably my sweet tooth talking). Now, I like pasta, tomato sauce and mince separately but hate lasagne. I love guacamole but would never eat a plain avocado. And finally, I hate smoked salmon but love salmon in all other forms, including my new favourite as of today – topped with harissa and served with couscous.

Salmon was a supermarket staple for me when I first started university because I knew I needed to eat healthily (try as I might, even I admit a gal cannot survive on chicken goujons alone) and still wanted to have something that fills me up more than plain salads. But then I got lazy and stopped doing anything interesting when it came to cooking with it, meaning I never wanted to turn to a plate of plain microwaved salmon at the end of the day and it would hide in the back of my fridge instead. Now, I’m fully back on the salmon game and loading it up with flavour to make my ideal meal. This works equally well hot or cold, fresh or as leftovers, for lunch or for dinner – enjoy!

Harissa salmon with lemon cucumber couscous

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2tsp harissa paste
  • 120g couscous
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 lemon, zested and ½ juiced
  • small handful of mint
  • small handful of chives
  • olive oil

Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a lined baking tray. Spread the harissa evenly over the top of each fillet. Grill for 10-12 minutes until cooked through but still flaky.

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Place the couscous in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour over boiling water until just covering the couscous, cover with a lid or cling film and leave for 5minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

Dice the cucumber. Finely chop the red onion and herbs. When the couscous is ready, fluff the grains with a fork. Add a generous glug of olive oil, the lemon zest and juice. Stir, and add the cucumber, red onion and herbs. Taste for seasoning. Divide the couscous between two plates and top each with a salmon fillet.

Giant couscous, roasted tomato and goats cheese salad

I am not the biggest salad eater. During term time, nearly anything else will appeal more than a bowl of leaves after a long day of revision. Simple, quick and cheap though salads may be, several hours of reading about 18th century Renaissance cabinets leaves me craving comfort food and a treat instead. Nevertheless, this year the healthy eating kick that sweeps the country every January seems to have finally affected me and I began to think about what simple, healthy but still really delicious meals I could incorporate into my meal rotation.

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My other concern with salads is making sure that they are filling enough that I don’t defeat the whole point by following it up with far too many Hobnobs afterwards. This recipe, bulked out with couscous and a sensible amount of cheese, means that this is not a problem. I adapted this recipe from a Waitrose version that used farro and roasted kale instead – my baby steps with healthy eating means I’m not in love with kale just yet. Nowhere in Cambridge seems to sell farro, hence the giant couscous which provides a similar texture and bite. Finally, my initial plan was to roast the onion and tomato for 10-15 minutes – until I walked into my kitchen and discovered the ‘Out of Order’ sign on my oven door. I still think roasting them would be delicious but this method actually makes it even quicker and simpler – my ideal lunch.

Giant couscous, roasted tomato and goats cheese salad

Serves 2

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered – or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes
  • dried oregano
  • 125g giant couscous
  • 100g rocket
  • 100g goats cheese, crumbled

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until beginning to soften and caramelise, stirring regularly to prevent it catching. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for a further 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes are also caramelising and releasing their juices.

Meanwhile, cook the couscous in boiling salted water for 6-8minutes until al dente.

Drain the couscous and tip into the frying pan. Stir all together so that the couscous gets coated with the tomato juices and olive oil. Stir through the rocket. Pile into bowls and top with crumbled goats cheese and a final drizzle of olive oil.