Last week I experienced the perils of both “buy one get one free” and the advice of persuasive members of the public. Even though there was an attractive offer on packs of peppers, I only wanted one – the last week of term, there seemed little point in filling the car with an abundance of leftover peppers when that valuable space would be much needed to house a clothes airer, for example. However, as I was selecting my single pepper a friendly, yet persuasive member of the public, engaged me in light conversation and managed to convince me that it would be better to make use of the offer and as a result I came home with 6 peppers. I don’t know how much of a regular situation this is for most people, but nevertheless this recipe is a great way to use up a large amount of vegetables!
This roasted vegetable cous cous with mozzarella salad makes a good, light supper – the flavours are well balanced and not overpowering; the different textures of each component make it really enjoyable. The flavours of the dish come mainly from the vegetables you choose to use – I added a small amount of smoked paprika to my ingredients to give it a bit of spice, but there is no reason why other herbs and spices could be used. For example, a sprinkling of oregano or basil would give an Italian hint to the dish; parsley would add freshness.
I think making this dish in the summer would be fantastic – instead of roasting the vegetables, BBQ-ing them, before adding to the cous cous, would give a smoky flavour that you could not get in any other way! BBQ’d vegetables with cous cous and a salad would be brilliant on a warm summer’s day, enjoyed outside with sunglasses and a glass of homemade lemonade. But perhaps as it is only March, I am getting ahead of myself…
- Peppers, quartered and then trimmed into ‘squares’. 1 per person, in different colours if possible for good presentation!
- Mushrooms – most varieties are fine, but bare in mind that the smaller (eg. button) the mushroom, the more easily they have the potential to char!
- Salad tomatoes, quartered
- Cous cous
- Salad – rocket goes well with this, but any green is just as suitable
- Mozzarella, sliced, then torn into rough strips
- Butter, for the cous cous
- Cut the top off the pepper, then quarter. Take each quarter and lay it skin-side-down, and trim it into a ‘square’ shape (this is really only for presentation!). Quarter the salad tomatoes, and cut the mushrooms into quarters or halves depending on their size. Any other vegetable you wish to use in the dish is fine – remember some vegetables will take longer to roast than others, and this should be taken into account otherwise you will have difficulty serving them all the same time!
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees, and lightly oil a baking tray. Add the peppers to the tray, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes until they begin to soften. Remove the tray, add the tomatoes, season, and return to the oven for 10 minutes more. Remove the tray once more, add the paprika or other spice/herb you are using, and place in the oven for a final 5 minutes. It is important to keep checking on the vegetables – some ovens are more powerful than others, and whilst a slightly charred effect is good, overly burnt isn’t!
- Boil the kettle and prepare the cous cous according to the packet instructions. Leave to absorb the water, then add some butter and ‘fluff’ the grains.
- In the serving bowl, place the salad and add the mozzarella. Dress lightly with oil and lemon juice, before seasoning with salt and pepper. It may be an idea to make the dressing in another bowl, to ensure the combination of oil to lemon juice isn’t too sharp – this way the salad won’t be ruined!
- Add the cous cous alongside the salad in the bowl
- Take the vegetables out of the oven, and place them in the remaining space in the serving bowl; season with more spices/herbs if you wish.