The secret to making the best instant couscous is in the steaming method. The couscous absorbs the fragrant steam from the ingredients being cooked below to become light and fluffy. (Moroccans say that couscous that has been made only by absorbing boiling water is "uncooked" and they marvel that many people have yet to discover the magic of true couscous.) As well as improving the flavour of the couscous, the vegetables in this vegetarian recipe look colourful and delicious together and the whole dish can be on the table in well under an hour. The other secret of great couscous is in the finishing touch. In Morocco this is smen (preserved butter), but here light blue-vein cheese adds the same little kick.
- 1 swede, cut into large chunks
- 1–2 parsnips, cut into large chunks
- 1–2 carrots, cut into large chunks
- 1–2 zucchini, cut into large chunks
- small piece of pumpkin, skin on, cut into large chunks
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 1 cup podded broad beans (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- handful of coriander sprigs
- handful of flat-leaf parsley sprigs
- 1 litre stock (ideally homemade)
- 500 g instant couscous
- 2–3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 g light blue-vein cheese (such as Blue Castello)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Put the vegetables (including the whole tomatoes and broad beans) in the bottom of a large pot that has a steam basket attachment. Add the spices, herbs and stock. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, put the couscous in a bowl and add the vegetable oil. Stir with your hands to coat the grains. Add the salt and just enough water to moisten the grains but not drown them. Stir well so the grains absorb the water evenly. Transfer to the steam basket and place over the vegetables. Cover with a lid.
Once the couscous begins to steam, remove the basket and tip the couscous into a bowl. Crumble the cheese over the couscous and stir so it melts through. Sprinkle on a little more water and stir again. Return the couscous to the basket.
Place back over the pot of vegetables, cover with a lid and wait until the couscous begins to steam again. Tip the couscous onto a large platter and spoon over the vegetables and a little stock.