Jewelled couscous salad

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

This recipe is an adaptation of the classic Persian jewelled rice, traditionally served at weddings and other celebrations, and usually containing pomegranates, herbs and nuts for colour and texture. This couscous recipe follows the same lines. In this salad, the jewels are the nuts, carrots, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Don’t worry if one element is missing – for example, you can swap the pomegranate for dried apricot, the cucumber for blanched chopped green beans or the pine nuts for flaked almonds or pistachios. Just make it colourful!

Serves 4 as a side dish
200g couscous*
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 heaped tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon sunflower or pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
A pinch or 2 of sumac (optional)
1⁄2 large cucumber
Diced 1 carrot
Grated seeds from 1 pomegranate
A handful of mint leaves
A handful of flat-leaf parsley
200g feta, crumbled, (optional)

*Alternative to couscous: cooked quinoa or cracked or bulgar or cracked wheat (all thoroughly washed)

1.Put the couscous in a bowl, then pour over the boiling hot stock, cover with clingfilm and leave to fluff up for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and sunflower or pumpkin seeds in a dry pan and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
3. When it’s ready, add the oil and lemon juice and some seasoning to the couscous and use a fork to stir and separate.
4. When cool, add all the remaining ingredients, stir together and serve.

Variation: Jewelled couscous and millet salad
For this variation on the above recipe, you can use half the quantity of couscous and instead bring 100ml (75g) pearled millet up to a simmer in 300ml boiling stock and cook gently for 12–15 minutes or until just tender (it should have absorbed very nearly all of the liquid at the end of cooking, so watch it carefully). Mix with the other ingredients.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

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