Vegetable Berber couscous

A vegetarian twist on traditional couscous. Lighter and less overbearing than rich meaty sauces, the sweet and melting vegetables in this dish are pure heaven.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight or tinned
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced lengthways
  • 2 courgettes, quartered lengthways
  • 300g chunk of pumpkin or squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the couscous

  • 3 cups of couscous
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Cumin

METHOD

For the sauce

  1. Finely chop the onion place in the bottom half of a couscous steamer with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat until soft and translucent.
  2. Add hot water and the chickpeas and cook until they’re tender (if using tinned chickpeas, they’ll already be soft) then add the carrots, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Simmer for ten minutes, then add the courgettes and squash.
  4. Cook until the vegetables are sweet and just short of melting, around another 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Note that if the vegetables are cooked before the couscous is ready you can set them aside and add them back to the sauce before serving.

For the couscous

  1. Spread the couscous in a flat dish and add a teaspoon of salt and one cup of cold water. Mix everything together and leave to rest until the water to be absorbed.
  2. Place the damp couscous in the top half of the steamer and set it over the simmering sauce. Note when the steam starts to filter through the couscous and cook for 15 minutes from this point on.
  3. Remove the couscous from the steamer and tip it onto a tray, spreading it out and breaking up any lumps.
  4. When the couscous has cooled slightly, add another half glass of water. Then oil your hands with olive oil and rub the couscous grains between your hands to break up any lumps and separate each grain.
  5. Check seasoning and add salt and cumin as desired.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 6. (We like to keep a kettle boiling to top up the sauce if necessary!)
  7. Display the couscous in a bowl and lay the vegetables decoratively on top with the sauce in a jug. Alternatively, serve the sauce and vegetables together.

Don’t throw away the seeds from your pumpkin! Boil them for 10 minutes then rub in salt and olive oil and bake at 200 degrees celsius until brown and crunchy. They’re a nutritious and tasty snack or garnish!