Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? And it was. Perfect for a sunny afternoon. It comes together quickly and it is as pretty as a picture. Any edible flowers will do and there are many. If you don’t already have a nasturtium plant I heartily suggest that you procure one. They grow easily, need little space and they are productive. Flowers and leaves taste and look great (a little peppery), and there are lots of different colours, mainly cheerful shades of orange, yellow and red. When they go to seed, you can treat the seed pods as capers, and pickle them. Here I use nasturtium, both flowers and leaves, but also cucumber flowers (a real garden treat, gentle and tasting of cucumber) and joyful chicory flowers.
Did I ever tell you about the time that I was a judge for the International Cous Cous Festival in Sicily? YES, that is a real thing, and yes I was. A week long cous cous festival in San Vito Lo Capo, with streets lined with stalls selling only this, and a cous cous chat show and radio station. Countries from all around the Mediteranean send national teams who submit entries, 3 per session, one at lunchtime and one at dinner. So that would be 6 plates of cous cous a day. There were some very interesting dishes, and judges too. There were 10 of us at a top table and 100 judges from the public. One of my fellow judges was a former US ambassador to Morocco, and so he knew cous cous very well. He had some fascinating stories. What was interesting was not just how different the recipes were, but also that each country has its own version of cous cous, from the large bouncy Israeli cous cous to Palestinian maftoul.
This is super simple and open to your own interpretation. I used cucumbers which I had salted for 15 minutes to intensify the flavour through removing some of the water. Onion for bite, toasted pistachios for nuttiness (well, yes, they are a nut!) and a bright yellow tomato, sugar sweet. Herbs from the garden, mint and chives. Dressed with sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (although a lemon juice dressing would work very well here too). Cous cous, a cupboard essential, speedy and light. Pulses would be great in here too, chickpeas or anything you fancy. Try crumbling some feta through it also, very good.
You should also try:
- 150g cous cous (dry weight)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- 50g pistachios or blanched hazelnuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 150g tomatoes of your choice
- 1 cucumber
- 3 tbsp chopped chives
- 3 tbsp chopped mint
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar or lemon juice
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- what ever you grow or can get - chive flowers, nasturtiums (flowers and leaves), chicory flowers cucumber flowers.
- crumble in some feta, top with red currants, add cooked prawns (so much potential!)