Saturday, January 01, 2011

December 25, 2010: Green couscous

Cindy and I decided that the always popular soy bombs would be our main contribution to our small Christmas picnic but we also wanted to take something salady to share around. So we went back to Plenty (which had already given us two great new recipes) and eventually settled on this green couscous salad.

There are a few steps required to assemble it but they're all pretty simple - a bit of frying to soften the onion, some couscous soaking, a little chopping and a quick whiz of the food processor to make the herb paste. Your reward is a strongly flavoured salad that manages not to be overpowering - the herb flavours are dominant, counterbalanced by the slight bitterness of the rocket. The main impression you get eating it is freshness - the greenery just makes it seem as though you're eating the healthiest, freshest meal possible. Next time we might try drizzling the whole thing with a bit of lemon juice, just to add a bit of tang to herby goodness, but even minus that step this was a definite picnic winner.

This completes my hatrick of Ottolenghi recipes for the holiday period - it's proven to be an excellent addition to our cookbook stash - we're already eyeing off the pomegranate eggplant.

Green couscous 
(from Ottlenghi's Plenty)

150g couscous
160ml boiling vegie stock (we used Massel 'chicken' stock)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
50g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
3 spring onions, finely sliced
50g rocket
chilli flakes (optional)

Herb paste
1 small bunch parsley
1 small bunch coriander
2 tablespoons roughly chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dill
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
90ml olive oil

Pour the boiling stock over the couscous and leave to absorb, covered, for 10 minutes

Fry the onion in the olive oil until it goes completely soft and starts to turn golden. Add the salt and cumin and mix well. Kill the heat and leave to cool.

Make the herb paste by putting all the ingredients in a food processor and whizzing until smooth.

Add the paste to the cooked couscous and mix together well, so that the couscous turns deliciously green. Combine with the onions, pistachios, spring onions, chilli and rocket and carefully mix everything together.


  1. happy new year cindy and michael - nice to see the year start with some green for hope :-)

    have looked at plenty in the bookstores and it does entice so am glad it is living up to its promise

  2. Happy New Year! This looks like the perfect meal for a post-NYE-cocktails, super hot summer's day. Now, if I could just bear to walk across the road to the shops in this heat to buy the herbs...

  3. this looks delicious! a definite needed change from the unhealthy foods consumed in december!

  4. I've been meaning to try an Ottolenghi recipe for a while now but just haven't gotten around to it. This one looks healthy and delicious!

  5. Happy new year everyone! I'd happily recommend this as an intro to Ottolenghi's recipes - his Guardian column also has lots that you can try before deciding to fork out for the book. :-)

  6. Planning on making that this week.How many does your recipe serve ?

  7. Hi Mike! The original recipe says it serves 4, and I reckon you could stretch it further than that as a side dish. It stores well in the fridge for a few days so there's no harm in making a lot and having leftovers. :-)