Couscous, a whole-grain, is a really simple and versatile food. It is so easy to prepare, takes a few minutes from scratch, and provides a really good base from which to enhance/adapt. It is also good for you. It provides a good source of lean, vegetarian protein and is very low fat. Its origins go back hundreds of years, and is the staple of much North African, and Middle-Eastern Cuisine. I was really lucky to have had a traditional Berber recipe when in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco last year – for me that experience was the couscous holy grail.
- 500 g couscous
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 600 ml hot chicken or vegetable stock, made from stock cube such as Knorr is absolutely fine
- juice and zest of 1 x lemon
- salt and black pepper
- Get a large mixing bowl, and empty the bag of couscous into it. Add the zest of lemon, season well (I am very liberal when black pepper is concerned) and mix thoroughly. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil and half the lemon juice, and mix together.
- Make 600ml of chicken or vegetable stock ( 1 1/2 cubes is normally sufficient) by pouring over boiling water and whisking as thoroughly as possible. As soon as the stock cube has dissolved, pour the hot stock over over the couscous. Using a large fork, mix everything together as thoroughly as you can. Cover with a tea towel and place a dinner plate on top.
- After 5 minutes, uncover, and separate the couscous grains using a fork. Don't worry, it may seem to be quite arduous at first but with a little persistence, it will crumble apart into individual grains. It is a bit like raking through wet sand at first. Ensure that the grains are well separated (it is quite easy to leave behind a significant clump of couscous at the bottom of a large bowl) and, uncovered, allow to cool.
- Add the remaining lemon juice, drizzle over the remaining tbsp. of olive oil and mix well.
- Store what you do not need in a large Tupperware container. Add a wedge of lemon if storing for 3-4 days to maintain a fresh flavour.