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Wednesday, June 27, 2007
  Baked couscous!?
When we got back from the weekend (seminars and preaching) in New Plymouth, I found an interesting recipe in the NZ Herald's Saturday colour supplement. It does not appear to be online, so I can't link to it, so I'll give you my variant (as tested last night and tonight - it was so good, all those intense flavours!) here.

This recipe is easy, quick, tasty and unusual. As Donna Hay says it captures "those strong flavours synonymous with roasts... in half the time".

Heat the oven I suggest about 170oC fanbake, or a bit more conventional - Donna recommended 200oC but I think that starts the tomatoes too fast - cut about three or four tomatoes per person in half, put them on a baking tray with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a small handful of herbs (Donna says thyme, but it is not the thyme season round here - so how come a recipe for thyme was in last week's Herald? Go figure! I used marjoram and it tasted good last night, today I found thyme in the vegie shop, so maybe our thyme dying is just bad herbiculture). When the oven is hot put them in for 12-15 minutes - they should be starting to loose shape and concentrate the flavour as the water evaporates.

Turn the oven up to 225oC (perhaps more if conventional). Prepare the couscous equal parts hot chicken stock and couscous, enough for the number of people for a meal one cup does two, for one course one cup might serve 3-4 people. and pour over the tomatoes. Back in the oven for 10 mins. Donna says cover, I preferred to soak the couscous first and then half cover so the higher heat could begin to make nice dark baked bits.

Meanwhile whizz some more oil, lemon juice to taste, salt and pepper and mix in pinenuts (if you have no pinenuts cashews work well, but put them in to whizz and get partly chopped - I've tried both, pinenuts are best but cashews are good too). Mix this dressing with a handfull or two of baby spinach leaves per person and plenty of grated parmesan. (Yes, this time you need the fresh stuff the tubes of dry grains will NOT do!) Pour this over the hot tomato couscous mix in the oven tray to wilt the spinach before serving. It goes down a treat on its own, or with chicken. To save bother if you are using chicken I suggest cutting small and putting into the oven about half way through cooking the tomatoes the first time.

Ingredients (per person as a main):
  • Tomatoes: Roma or other acid free - 3-4
  • Pinenuts - 1/3-1/2 cup for 2-4 people
  • Baby spinach leaves - 1-2 handfulls
  • Couscous - 1/2 a cup
  • Chicken stock - 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice - tablespoon
  • Parmesan cheese grated - 1/3 cup or so
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, suffering summer, you need not wait till winter to try this - though it is worth waiting for, I promise - Donna says it can be eaten cold as a salad. Tonight I deliberately made enough, so tomorrow I'll let you know if she is right. Or I will if the sun shines brightly again like today ;-)


I didn't wait for the sun to shine, I stoked up the fire, and imagined it. There is no one else at home they are at conferences or skiing or soaking in the hot pools at Rotorua, so my consolation prize was starting the day my way: salmon and the Baked Couscous and Tomato as a salad. It was delicious, so you deprived summery types need not wait, add a delicious unusual new salad to your repertoire!

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