There's nothing I love more than rustling up a simple and quick, yet flavourful salad for lunch (or dinner) when we are strapped for time. And these days, that's quite often. Coming into the warm summer months, I want to up my salad game and use a lot more local and seasonal ingredients. So, I am excited to share more farm to plate salads over the next few months. When I make a salad, I first see what we already have in the pantry and fridge, and go from there instead of heading to the grocer to buy everything I need. I have found this approach, where I am forced to be creative and use what I have, always produces the best results.
One of my all time favourite salads is my Pearl Couscous Salad with Oven Roasted Capsicums and Goat Cheese. For those of you who don't know, pearl couscous is also known as Ptitim; they're small balls of toasted semolina flour and were first made in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce. It can be enjoyed like rice and pasta, and is ready to eat in 10 minutes. I used to think pearl couscous wasn't as nutritious as brown rice, but recently found out that calorie-wise, couscous comes out on top. It has less calories, more fibre and more protein. But that's if they're made with semolina, so check the back of the packet.
When I cook, I love finding ways to give my dishes more depth of flavour, and in this case, it's as simple cooking the pearl couscous in vegetable stock instead of plain water. It's not revolutionary by all means, but this tiny tweak elevates what is effectively, a simple ingredient. You can get your hands on pearl couscous in most supermarkets now, but if you can't find it, normal couscous will also be really lovely.
When it comes to salads, I am all about flavour (of course) but also texture. The couscous is soft, and so is the oven roasted capsicum. Combined with the creaminess of the goat cheese, a little crunch is needed. It's important to add that element of crunch with the crunchy sprouts. Now I am very aware that pregnant women should not eat sprouts due to the risk of salmonella and other nasty things that could happen in your gut and body during pregnancy, so if that's you or if you are making this salad for someone who is pregnant, swap the crunchy sprouts for snow peas or sugar snap peas. And don't just throw them in, slice them finely as it adds another textural element to the dish. And while I like to season the salad before serving, I find a little bit more sea salt and cracked pepper at the very end (on top of the goat cheese) seals the deal. Ok, let's get started!
Tip: If you are preparing to serve later on, after Step 6, microwave until the salad is warm, then add the goat cheese on top after.