Griddled Courgette and Cousous Salad

Last week I was invited to a barbecue, and was asked if I’d help out with the non-meat side of food (one of the best requests ever?). I always think of barbecue flavours as being strong and smokey – I wanted to create something to both compliment and contrast with that. So, to me, the logical conclusion was a salad. But a salad far beyond a few sad leaves of iceberg – this salad is fresh, bright and zingy, with a brilliant variance in flavours and textures. It’s everything I want to eat in summer, and I intend to make it a staple this year.

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Ingredients (serves 8):
– 1 large courgette
– 150g giant couscous
– 125g couscous
– 400g tin green lentils
– bunch spring onions
– 250g cherry tomatoes (I used these)
– seeds from ½ pomegranate
– 100g mixed baby salad leaves, washed
– handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

For the dressing:
– 5tbsp cider vinegar
– 3tbsp sunflower oil
– 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
– juice ½ lime
– salt and pepper, to taste

1. Begin by firing up your barbecue (or heating your grill, if inclement British weather prevents being outside). Slice the courgette into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, then carefully place them onto the hot barbecue. Griddle until softened and just beginning to char, then set aside.

2. Place the giant couscous in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes. While this is cooking, put the regular couscous in a large salad bowl and pour over 200ml boiling water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then use a fork to separate the grains. Drain the water from the giant couscous, then add to the salad bowl. Drain and rinse the lentils before stirring into the couscous mixture.

3. Finely chop the spring onions, and half the tomatoes. Slice the pomegranate in half, then hit the outside of one half with a wooden spoon to remove the seeds (I do this into a colander over the sink to minimise mess!). Stir the spring onions, tomatoes and pomegranate seeds into the salad bowl along with the baby leaves and mint.

4. To make the dressing, simply stir everything together in a jug. Wait until just before serving the salad to add the dressing, to prevent the leaves becoming soggy.

I ate mine with veggie burgers and vegetable kebabs (peppers, courgette, tomato and halloumi), but it would go wonderfully with falafel or quiche – or you could eat it by itself for a light summer lunch.

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