We had an interesting conversation over supper the other evening when I produced an accompaniment to the meat dish of the evening. What’s that? I replied its Couscous.

I don’t like Couscous – oh dear. I had met a similar comment when I produces a Watermelon, Fresh Mint and Feta Salad on another occasion. Second and third helpings were consumed on both counts. It ever amazes me that the blinkered view of food preparation is that there is only one way to serve something – like it or not. However, with a little imagination new flavours can compliment a staple ingredient and make it really palatable (even Yummy – our latest phrase inhouse!)

The staples that are familiar of North Africa and parts of the Mediterranean recall Couscous and Bulger Wheat but what’s the difference.

Bulgur

Bulgur is considered a whole grain. Another name for bulgur is wheat groats. (Groats is a general term for hulled grains, including oat, rye and barley as well as wheat.) Made of durum (hard) wheat, bulgur is cracked and partially cooked before packaging.

Couscous

Unlike Bulgur, Couscous is not whole grain. Rather, couscous comes from husked and crushed wheat called semolinaCouscous was originally made from millet, not wheat. Technically the term covers small, round pellets made from other grains too, and even rice, corn or black-eyed peas.

That’s the simple explanation – so hope you now know. The cooking therefore is slightly different though Couscous is simpler and easier. What you must consider however is that like Rice and Potatoes they must be consumed with something to add flavour and interest.

Strawberry Salad with Caerphilly Cheese – Serves 4

6 ozs Couscous – soaked and prepared

1 lemon, finely grated zest only

8ozs Asparagus Short Sticks cut into 1inch lengths

1 tbsp Olive Oil for the salad

3 tbsp Olive Oil for the dressing

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp caster sugar

8ozs Caerphilly Cheese – crumbles on cubed

1 Bag Watercress

1 punnet Mustad & Cress

2 tbsp fresh mint lightly chopped

9 ozs Punnet hulled and halved

Instructions

  1. Place the Couscous in a bowl and cover with boiling water and allow to soak and cool Once cool toss with lemon zest and 1 tbsp of Olive Oil.
  2. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain, refresh under cold water then add to the Couscous. Add the cheese and mix everything well to combine.
  3. Make the dressing by combining the Balsamic Vinegar, 3 tbsp Olive Oil and Caster Sugar
  4. Arrange the watercress over a serving platter. Scatter the cress and chopped Mint Leaves on top, then add the Couscous mixture along with the strawberries.
  5. Drizzle over the salad and toss just before serving.