Spiced couscous with halloumi and courgette ribbons

Halloumi and couscous

Sometimes flicking through the older cookbooks turns up an unexpectedly tasty meal, like this spice couscous with halloumi and courgette ribbons from the Complete Vegetarian. It’s a Moroccan inspired dish that doesn’t take too long to put together but tastes amazing. For those reasons, it regularly makes an appearance at our table. And, while some people may not like the salty tasting cheese, I love halloumi and so does the husband.

When making this I pretty much follow the recipe, but as I rarely have whole almonds in the cupboard and the husband and I aren’t all that partial to peaches, these and the parsley are omitted. And, as our griddle pan isn’t large enough to cope with griddling three ribboned courgettes and a block of halloumi in one go (is anyone’s??), the courgettes go first followed by the cheese.

On occasions I do go slightly off piste with the spices and swap them all for a teaspoon or so of ras el hanout (the Morrocan spice mix). It seems to work well.

And finally, you might find this a bit wonky as it’s about as far removed from Morrocan cooking as you can get, but the husband and I LOVE sweet Thai dipping sauce and love a bit of this dribbled over the final plate.

The verdict from the husband: ‘That was nice. Why did we start eating it with Thai dipping sauce?’

Ingredients

275g of couscous
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 cardamom pods bruised
50g whole almonds toasted
1 peach stoned and diced
3 courgettes sliced lengthways into ribbons
225g halloumi sliced
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Method

Place the couscous in a bowl and pour over 500ml of boiling water. Add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Leave the couscous for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed, then fluff the grains with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes until the onion has softened.

Stir in the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle. Add the couscous, almonds, diced peach and butter and heather through for 2 minutes.

Brush a griddle pan with olive oil and heat until very hot. Turn down the heat to medium, then place the courgettes on the griddle and cook for 5 minutes until tender and slightly charred. Turn the courgettes over, add the halloumi and continue to cook for a further five minutes, turning the halloumi halfway through.

Remove the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cardamom pods from the couscous, then arrange it on a plate and season well. Top with the halloumi and courgettes. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve.

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