Monday, July 29, 2013

One of My All Time Favorite Delia Smith Summer Recipes: Roasted Vegetable Cous-Cous Salad

When we first moved to England cooking for my family wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be.  In addition to figuring out temperature settings and measurements, I also had the challenge of finding ingredients to make dishes that were familiar to us.  Where cooking once came as second nature to me, it now felt labored and awkward.

One day one of my new English friends mentioned that I might find Delia Smith's cookbooks helpful, so the first chance I got I bought Delia's Complete Cookery Course.  My friend was right, there wasn't a recipe I tried from it that we didn't love.  From that point on I have been a Delia Smith devotee.

Two of my favorite books of hers are her Winter and Summer Collections.  Her winter book is filled with hearty autumnal creations that warm the heart and stick to your ribs.  The Summer Collection on the other hand is made up of light, fresh dishes most often made from the season's fresh produce.

One of my favorite recipes out of this book is her recipe for Roasted Vegetable Cous-Cous Salad with Harissa-style Dressing.  A combination of grilled fresh vegetables, cous-cous and a flavorful tart, tomatoey dressing, this is a great recipe when you are wondering what to do with all those vegetables you bought when you got carried away at the farmers' market.

As usual this is my version of her wonderful salad.  I have replaced her small grain cous-cous with the larger pearl Israeli cous-cous that I adore.  I also like to be less confined than with her original recipe and use whatever veggies that look a little tired in my crisper.

You really just can't go wrong throwing this together with whatever you have on hand.  This is a great vegetarian meal or a wonderful accompaniment to a nice piece of grilled fish, steak or chicken.  You are also going to love the way this makes your house smell.

Roasted Vegetable Cous-cous Salad with Lemony Tomato Dressing (Inspired by Delia Smith's recipe for Roasted Vegetable Cous-cous Salad with Harisssa-style Dressing)

For the cous-cous:
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 cup Israeli cous-cous
2 cups chicken stock

Pour olive oil into the bottom of a large sauce pan that has been set over medium high heat.  When oil is hot add add cous-cous and, stirring frequently, toast it until it is a golden brown.  Add chicken stock, bring to a boil before lowering heat to a simmer and cooking for approximately 20 minutes or until cous-cous is tender; remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover and set aside until ready to use.

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or small food processor.  Blend ingredients until they are emulsified. Set aside until ready to use.

For the roasted vegetables:
2 small yellow squash
2 small zucchini
1 small sweet yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the vegetables into approximate 2" cubes.  Place all the vegetables into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil until they are all lightly coated.  Add the basil leaves, garlic and salt and pepper. Toss a couple of times before spreading out onto a non-stick pan in a single layer.

Place vegetables into the preheated oven and roast for about 30 minutes (stir about every 5 - 10 minutes) or until vegetables are tender but still have some bite to them.  Remove from the oven and cool.

For the salad:
1 cup assorted pitted olives, roasted tomatoes and feta cubes (I went crazy at the olive bar at Whole Foods)
4 cups salad greens (I used baby spinach and arugula)
1/3 cup sliced almonds (toasted)

Place cooled cous-cous in the bottom of a large salad bowl.  Layer the roasted and cooled vegetables on top of the cous-cous, now lay the olive and cheese assortment on top of that, followed by the lettuce, dressing and the almonds.  Serve immediately.

Easily serves 6 -8

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