Couscous is a quick and simple base for a meal at any time of day – and it’s not expensive to buy at all. Use it as a vehicle for scraps of veg, fruit and a handful of whatever spices you have to hand. I make a variation on this fairly regularly for packed lunches, evening snacks or when cooking just for myself, and it’s comforting, filling and very good for you.
First make your dressing, so that’s done and can be languishing around intensifying while you throw the couscous together. Measure the tomato puree into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid – the size of an average jam jar is perfect for this. Add the garlic and then the oil, lemon, herbs and cumin. Screw the lid on tight and shake vigorously until well combined, then set to one side.
Measure your onion and peppers into a large nonstick pan and grate in the carrot. Add the cooking oil and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the veg has softened. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and add them to the pan, along with the sultanas or raisins and couscous. Pour over the chicken stock and bring to the boil. When the liquid is bubbling, turn the heat off, stir everything together, then place a lid on top tightly. Leave to stand for 10 minutes for the couscous to absorb all the stock and become fluffy. Stir through the spinach, then pour over the dressing and enjoy hot or cold.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container or bag and consume within 3 days. Not suitable for freezing in its current state, but you can thin it out with more stock and any remaining dressing and make it into a soup that riffs on a minestrone, which is perfectly suitable for freezing.
© Jack Monroe, 2020