Another routine that we had stuck to before Ramadan was Meatless Monday. Usually, every Monday I'd struggle to think of a vegetarian dish that I was excited to make and eat, and end up half-heartedly throwing vegetables together and making something that doesn't blow any minds, but doesn't taste bad either, yet nothing that makes me crave it for weeks to come. That was until London decided to be all sunny and pretty and somehow reminded me of my favourite vegetarian dish, that I make every summer but seem to forget about during the colder months.
Usually when I think of salads, I get hungry straight away and think of what to have as a 'real meal', but this, this is different. This dish has all my favourite ingredients: lightly spiced fat pearls of giant couscous, roasted aubergines and courgettes, slightly sweet and chewy sun-dried tomatoes, and juicy olives topped off with a light dressing. It's light enough to be served as a side dish to some grilled chicken or fish, but by adding a little extra it's delicious for lunch. Oh, and it's pretty healthy too.
This is now not only my Meatless Monday craving; it's my everyday of the week craving.
Giant Couscous Salad with Roasted Aubergine and Courgette
1 large aubergine, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 courgettes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
200 grams giant couscous
450 ml vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
170 grams sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
150 grams olives of your choice (We used pimento stuffed olives with garlic and parsley)
juice of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Put the chopped aubergines and courgettes on a foil covered baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and mix. Roast the vegetables in the oven, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden brown and tender, around 20-30 minutes.
In a small bowl or measuring jug make the dressing by mixing together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic clove, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and mint. Set aside.
Whilst the vegetables are roasting, begin cooking the giant couscous. Gently toast the giant couscous in a little bit of olive oil, around a teaspoon or two, for about 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Add the stock and stir often until all the stock has been absorbed, over medium heat. Add water if necessary until the couscous is soft throughout, which should take between 15-20 minutes. You can also cook the couscous according to the packaging instructions and swap the water for stock. Once cooked, mix in the cayenne, ground cumin and ground coriander until the couscous is evenly coated in the spices.
Transfer the couscous into a deep dish and spread to cool slightly. Add the roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and the dressing. Mix together. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold. However you fancy, it's good every way.