Couscous is a great background for other ingredients. In this lunch salad, both raw and lightly steamed vegetables are added to the couscous, together with almonds, mint and creamy fetta cheese. A touch of chilli gives extra bite to the dressing.
1¼ cups (230g) couscous
300 ml hot water
170 g slim asparagus spears, halved
2 zucchini, cut into thin sticks
1 red capsicum, deseeded and cut into thin strips
⅓ cup (30g) flaked almonds, toasted
handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
100g feta cheese
FOR THE DRESSING
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes
pepper to taste
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Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour over the hot water. Cover and set aside to soak for 15–20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Meanwhile, steam the asparagus for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue steaming for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender but still retain some crunch. Tip the vegetables into a colander and cool under cold running water. Drain well.
To make the dressing, combine the oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, chilli flakes and pepper to taste in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend.
Fluff up the couscous with a fork, then fold in the capsicum strips, almonds, mint and steamed asparagus and zucchini. Pour the dressing into the bowl and stir gently together. Crumble the feta over the top, then serve.
Some more ideas…
• If you can get yellow zucchini, use 1 yellow and 1 green for even more colour. • Instead of, or as well as, mint, use other herbs such as fresh coriander leaves. • To toast flaked almonds, lay them out in a single layer under a grill or in a dry frying pan and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned, watching closely so that they don't burn.
• Fetta is quite salty. You can reduce the salt content of the cheese by soaking it in milk for 30 minutes before use (discard the milk). • Couscous, made from semolina, is low in fat and high in starchy carbohydrate. • Zucchini belong to the same family as melons, cucumbers and pumpkins. Their skin is a rich source of betacarotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A.