Halloumi, roasted vegetables and saffron couscous

I’ve been experimenting with halloumi, vegetables, and couscous on and off for a couple of years. I knew I had the right mix of basic ingredients, but couldn’t get the spicing right. Sitting at my desk having just finished work I had an epiphany…saffron! Heading home I was eager to put my idea to the test straight away. I’m so happy with the result that I think it’s worth sharing.

2 red peppers
1 aubergine
1 courgette
1 red onion
Olive oil or cookie spray
1 clove garlic, crushed
125g chestnut mushrooms
250g halloumi
300ml vegetable stock
2 pinches saffron
250g couscous
125g pomodoro tomatoes
105ml jar baby capers, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of coriander
Black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

2. Blacken the red peppers. This can be done by either roasting them in the oven for about 30 minutes or, if you have a gas hob, charring them against a naked flame. I prefer the latter method. When fully blackened, place in a plastic bag to cool.

3. Thinly slice the courgette and aubergine. Lightly grease a flat tray and place the sliced vegetables on top. It’s absolutely fine to stack them on top of each other. Place in the oven and leave to roast until soft. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes, from memory.

4. Dice the red onion reasonably finely. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the onion. I tend to substitute cooking spray for olive oil. When you love food as much as I do, it’s best to save the calories wherever possible. Fry over a medium heat. While this is cooking, dice the mushrooms. When the onions start to soften add the crushed garlic then the mushrooms. Continue to cook until the mushrooms have softened.

5. Dice the halloumi into about 1cm cubes. Quickly fry in a hot pan with a little olive oil or cooking spray over a high heat, stirring carefully so that all sides are seared. Don’t worry if a lot of liquid comes out initially. Just drain it and keep frying.

6. Add saffron to stock and heat until it just boils. It’s entirely ok to use hot water and one stock cube. Put the couscous in a bowl, pour over the stock, cover, and let it do its thing.

7. Meanwhile, remove the blackened skin from the red peppers and chop into chunks, along with the courgette and aubergine. Half the tomatoes and roughly chop the herbs.

8. Fluff the couscous, adding about a teaspoon of olive oil to help loosen things up. Add all other ingredients to the bowl, including a healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper, mix thoroughly and serve.

I was really glad that I resisted the urge to add lemon juice because the saffron was sufficient to bind the flavours. The only change I might make next time is to add some chickpeas or toasted pine nuts, just to bring a little more contrast in texture.


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