"Okay, so I know you'll be at my house in about half an hour, but I'm still at the shops. I have about 10 bucks, no idea what to cook and I'm staring at a wall of tinned tomatoes like a rabbit in headlights."
"Right. Do you have couscous?"
"Buy some vegetables. And some wine. I'll sort you out."
We ended up watching 'The Flower of my Secret' that night, a Spanish melodrama by director Pedro Almodovar. And we ended up eating a delicious balsamic roast vegetable salad that has since become an absolute staple in my house. It's cheap, easy, and works with all sorts of vegetables. It's great warm for dinner, and cold for lunch the next day.
Sophie's Couscous SaladWhat you will need:
1 large eggplant
1 large zucchini
2 punnets cherry, grape or baby roma tomatoes
1 red capsicum
3 thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A splash of red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
1 cup couscous
1 cup boiling water
200gms soft fetta
What you will need to do:
1. Preheat your oven to 200 C
2. Dissolve brown sugar with 1 tbsp hot water in a large bowl. Add your other marinade ingredients and whisk well to combine. Season to taste - the marinade should not be immediately sweet, but you should be able to taste the sugar on the finish.
3. Dice zucchini and eggplant into 1-2cm cubes, and slice capsicum into pieces roughly the same size. Cut in half about 2/3rds of your cherry tomatoes, and leave the others whole. I try to leave the smallest ones whole, and halve the rest. Thinly slice shallots.
4. Combine the vegetables in the bowl with the marinade. Stir thoroughly, making sure everything is coated. Let sit for around half an hour, if you have time. Maybe now you would like to clean the kitchen? Have a cup of tea? Call your mum? Clean the house up frantically before your guests arrive? Good idea.
5. Line a baking tray, or two, with tinfoil. This really is a good idea, because the sugar in the marinade makes everything a bit sticky. Chuck your vegetables on the trays, drizzling any excess liquid over the top.
6. Roast for about 20 - 30 minutes. I like the eggplant, capsicum and tomatoes to be well done, but the zucchini should still have a bit of bite to it. When done, put the vegetables in a large, heatproof salad bowl.
7. I normally prepare couscous in a measuring cup. Simply measure out the desired amount, and pour the same amount again of boiling water on top. Stir with a fork, and then cover and let sit for about five minutes. Stir again, and then mix through the vegetables.
8. Serve while still warm, in individual bowls with crumbled up fetta on top.
And if you've got them, some garlic bread, red wine and Spanish melodrama go nicely, too.