Like other starchy staples such as rice, potatoes and pasta, cous cous is inexpensive and filling.
It’s also surprisingly easy to cook – simply salt, cover with boiling water and a lid, leave for 10 minutes until the grains are soft and fat and then fluff up with a fork and perhaps a little butter. Cous cous is a good carrier for strongly flavoured sauces and stews.
The recipe here is for a rich, spiced root vegetable bake – the recipes specifies parsnips, carrots and swede but you could add raw beetroot or turnips into the mix if you like. Also, don’t feel hampered by these vegetable proportions – a few more carrots or one less parsnip will work just as well. Be led by what’s in season and available in the shop or your fridge.
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into 2 cm dice
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm chunks
½ swede, peeled and chopped into 2 cm chunks
1-2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 cm dice.
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
2 x 400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
Handful pitted green olives (optional)
250g cous cous
Salt & Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC (190ºC fan) gas 6
- Put the parsnips, carrots, swede, potatoes and garlic cloves in a large oven-proof dish so that they are not packed too deeply.
- Season well, toss with 2tbsp olive oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the remaining olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat.
- Add the onions and allow to soften for 10 minutes.
- When the onions are soft, add the cumin seeds and coriander powder and stir around for a minute or so.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and olives, season with salt and pepper, stir and simmer gently to thicken for 10-15 minutes.
- Next make the cous cous. Boil a kettle of water. Place the cous cous in a large bowl. Add a teaspoon of salt then cover with water until there is just under a centimeter of liquid over the surface of the grains. Cover the bowl with a large plate or cling film so that it’s airtight and leave for 8-10 minutes.
- Once the vegetables have been in the oven for at 30 minutes and are almost cooked through, add them to the tomato mixture. Stir well, cover with a lid and allow to cook together for 5 – 10 minutes.
- After 8-10 minutes take the lid off the cous cous and fluff the grains with a fork and serve with the root vegetable stew.