Monday, 15 February 2016

Couscous Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Yoghurt Sauce

When I was working, I used to find it very hard to find lunch options that I would look forward to, especially a meal that was both filling and healthy. I would usually have a quick homemade sandwich for lunch, or if I wasn't organised enough, it would be a sandwich from the nearest supermarket (think boring tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches from Tesco). Sometimes it would be a bland soup or dull salad from the canteen, which would have me scavenging for food an hour later, or a heavy jacket potato with beans or tuna, which put me in a state of lethargy once lunch was over. If I was lucky, it would be last nights dinner's leftovers, but I wouldn't always be so lucky to find a microwave to heat it up in, especially seeing as I was always on the move. 

Reminiscent of something I would find at Pret, this salad would have been my ideal lunch, especially during warmer days where I could find a park to stop off at and have my lunch. Healthy, light enough so you don't have to nap under your desk, but filling enough so you don't binge on the office cookies an hour later, tastes good both warmed up or at room temperature, and interesting enough to keep you looking forward to lunch time. Oh, and if you are on of those people that are organised enough to meal prep, I imagine this would be easy enough to make and have a couple of times throughout the week. 

Even when not working this lunch is something I look forward to. I usually double the ingredients of the chicken meatballs and stash half in the freezer, which has made it easier to throw this salad together whenever the craving hits. Generally, I make it with a quick yoghurt sauce, but when I don't have that on hand, it tastes just as good with some crushed feta on top. And obviously, as usual, it is flexible enough to adapt itself to what you have on hand/what you prefer. When I start work again, I have a feeling this will be making a regular appearance. 

Couscous Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Yoghurt Sauce

(serves 4)

For the meatballs
500 grams minced chicken
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 small cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 green chilli pepper, thinly sliced
60 grams breadcrumbs (around 2 slices of bread turned into breadcrumbs in a food processor)
1 teaspoon salt

For the couscous salad
260 grams coucous
3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 red peppers, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
Pomegranate seeds from 1 pomegranate head
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon

For the quick yoghurt sauce
250 ml natural yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon dried mint

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), and prepare a baking tray with baking paper. Once half an hour is up, take out the meatball mixture, and using your hands, start shaping your meatballs. I prefer mine on the smaller side, so I use around 1-2 teaspoons of the mixture per ball. Place meatballs on the prepared baking tray in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked through. Set aside. 

Whilst the meatballs are cooking, prepare the couscous salad. Pour 250ml of boiling water over the couscous in a bowl, stir, and stand until the water is absorbed, around 5-10 minutes. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the garlic and stir it into the oil for 30 seconds, then throw in the couscous, stirring until well combined. Leave aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine the peppers, parsley, red onion and pomegranate seeds. Stir in the couscous. Drizzle in the remaining olive oil, the vinegar and lemon, and toss together. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the meatballs.

To make the quick yoghurt sauce, thin out the yoghurt with a little water to your preferred consistency. Stir in the garlic, dried mint and season with salt.

Serve the yoghurt sauce alongside the salad, so that everyone can add their preferred amount of sauce.

The meatballs can be frozen once shaped and can be cooked whenever you need them, whether it be for this salad, a sandwich or to toss into some pasta. So useful for when you need a quick lunch. 

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to make this!! Thanks Chef Janan!!