This salad is one of my favourites for dinner. It is a one-pot vegan meal with protein from legumes and nuts, and customisable, too. Grilling vegetables is also the ultimate summer thing, which is another reason why I like this salad so much. To make it gluten-free, substitute the couscous with millet or quinoa, which both have a similar texture to couscous.
- ½ cup wholemeal couscous
- 2 eggplants
- 2 zucchinis
- 1 onion
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 6-7 basil leaves, plus extra to serve
- salt and pepper, to season
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- a small splash of balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (see Note)
- 5-6 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, finely chopped
- a handful each of chopped almonds and raisins
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- sliced avocado or poached egg, to serve
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- a big pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
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.
To cook the couscous, bring 125 ml (½ cup) water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the couscous, stir, then remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 15 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, cook according to packet instructions.
Preheat a grill to high and bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, cut the eggplants and zucchinis lengthwise into ½ cm-thick slices, and the onion into ½ cm-thick rings. Dump the onion rings into the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes to soften, then drain. Once the grill is very hot, grill the vegie slices and onion rings for 1 minute each side or until cooked. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easily and add to a bowl as they cook.
Finely chop the parsley and basil, then add to the grilled vegetables. Season with the salt, and drizzle over the oil and vinegar. Add the garlic if you like.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Add the sesame seeds for a nice addition.
To assemble, toss the couscous, chickpeas and dressing in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Top with the grilled vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and raisins and finish off with an extra torn basil leaf and a squeeze of lemon. Some sliced avocado or a poached egg make a nice addition to serve.
• For a quick dish, use canned chickpeas, making sure to rinse and drain well. If using fresh chickpeas, soak overnight, then boil in water with a couple of garlic cloves, a small rosemary sprig and a bay leaf until tender, about 1 hour.
Recipe from Hortus Natural Cooking by Valentina Solfrini, with photographs by Valentina Solfrini.