Friday, 24 June 2011

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Aubergine

As soon as IrvingWashington over at Hunger and Sauce posted her Israeli Cous Cous recipe, I knew I had to give it a try. It looked oh so delish with sweetly roasted figs, toasted hazelnuts and crumbly feta. Majorly droolsome.

I must admit that despite my Middle Eastern roots, I hadn't heard of the stuff before. I've used finer North African couscous since my uni days but had never seen this plumper variety. My first hurdle was to find the elusive carbohydrate; my local Sainsburys didn't stock it and the internet wasn't much help ("How much!?"). Luckily, my dearest Papa happened upon some in trusty Waitrose, marketed as 'Giant' Couscous. Dad's rock.

My meal plan fell to pieces when I managed to forget to buy figs. Oops. Still keen to try out my latest ingredient, I raided our fridge and came across an aubergine. I'd picked it up on a rare trip to Asda where they were selling them for 50p - half the price of Sainsburys where I usually shop. Some were little (half the size of the Sainsburys ones) but I rummaged one out which was a good size. I roasted it while I had one or two other bits in the oven so as to be as thrify as possible with my fuel. If you're turning the oven on for cakes or biscuits, why not pop a tray of aubergines or peppers in too? They'll keep well in a container in your fridge for at least a few days or you could freeze them for when you next need them?

Anyway, here's my Israeli cous cous recipe. I hope you like it! I'm still hoping that I remember to pick up those blasted figs when I'm next at the supermarket so that I can try out IrvingWashington's recipe!

Aubergine Israeli Couscous

Serves 2 as a side dish

1 aubergine
1 red onion, peeled
3 tbsp sunflower oil
100g Israeli or ‘Giant’ couscous
½ tsp vegetable stock powder (or around ¼ of a cube)
½ lemon, juiced and zested
2tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp white wine or cider vinegar
Handful of coriander, chopped
1 tsp chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic

- Whip the top off the aubergine, slice in half and cut into 5mm pieces. Do the same with the onion and place in a bowl. Pour 2 tbsp of sunflower oil over and toss until coated.
- Pop on to a baking tray and gently shake from side-to-side to level.
- Put into the oven and roast for 30 minutes at 190C. Remove the aubergine half way through cooking and stir so that it cooks evenly and goes golden on both sides.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the couscous. Gently brown the couscous for a few minutes so that it darkens slightly.
- While it cooks, measure out 200ml of cold water and add the stock powder and the whole garlic glove. Stir until the stock has dissolved.
- Add the water to the couscous and stir. Turn the heat below the pan to low, cover and bring to a simmer.
- After a minute, remove the garlic clove and then continue to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the couscous is tender. Stir every so often so that it doesn’t clump together. You may need a little more water depending on your couscous.
- Mince the garlic and combine it with the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, chilli, cumin, vinegar and coriander in a large bowl. Add the aubergine and couscous and toss with your hands until everything has an even coating of dressing.
- Serve garnished with coriander leaves. Lovely with poached eggs or harissa chicken.

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