Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Working Hard, Eating Well

Warm Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable, Chorizo and Couscous Salad 

Rachel, Dublin

I will be honest and admit that, yes, this dish does involve a lot of chopping and this often isn't a great sign when you're wanting something quick and easy.  However, the rather excellent news is that once the chopping is done, you chuck it all in the oven and barely have to give it a second thought until your timer rings to signal that dinner's ready! This leaves you free for whatever else needs doing that evening: laundry, hoovering, pouring a bottle of wine into yourself...

Recipe (serves two)
2 Courgettes
1 Aubergine
3 Peppers
8 Unpeeled Garlic cloves (optional)
1tsp fresh or 1/2tsp of both dried oregano and thyme
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cooking chorizo (approx 200g)
100g couscous
Vegetable/Chicken stock cube (optional)
Salt and Pepper
Salad leaves (optional)

Preheat your oven and roasting dish to 180c (fan oven). Chop the courgettes into 2cm slices on the diagonal. Cut the aubergine into thick slices and then quarter the slices into wedges and cut the peppers into 4cm squares.  Put these all in a bowl with the unpeeled garlic cloves (if using) and add your herbs, oil and salt and pepper. Toss everything well to ensure it's coated in the oil and tip it in to the hot roasting pan when the oven is up to temperature. Spread the vegetables out evenly in the pan and place in the oven for 10mins.  During this time either slice or break up (depending on softness) your chorizo in to bite size pieces. After the first 10 mins of cooking give your vegetables a stir, add the chorizo and return to the oven for a further 25mins.  If you use dried chorizo rather than the softer cooking variety it may be better to fry it seperately or add it much later in the cooking time as it will become very dry if roasted for 25mins.  In Dublin you can get cooking chorizo in Fallon and Byrne (they have Irish Gubbeen smoked chorizo-yum), Sheridan's (deliciously spicy) and M&S.

Once the vegetables and chorizo are done (or during the last 5 minutes of cooking if you want a hotter salad) put your couscous in a heat proof bowl with half a crumbled stock cube.  Pour boiling water over the couscous until just covered and then cover the bowl with clingfilm or a plate and set to one side.  After 5 minutes taste the couscous to make sure it's cooked through and then combine it with the roasted vegetables and chorizo.

I love this salad as it's easy to make, tasty and looks very pretty due to all the different coloured vegetables.  Cooking chorizo is also something that you can keep in the freezer so it's a great standby dinner ingredient (once you remember to defrost it). This salad would be lovely alongside some dressed leaves or you could experiment with other combinations of veggies: button mushrooms, chunks of red onion, whole peeled shallots, cherry tomatoes or whatever you fancy!  

*Roasted garlic is one of my favourite things and I make it almost anytime I'm roasting something.  The garlic is left unpeeled as it turns soft and squidgy when roasted and easily squeezes out of it's skin for you to enjoy the wonderfully mild flavour. If peeled before roasting the garlic wouldn't be protected from the heat of the oven and the clove would turn hard and risk scorching on the bottom of the pan leaving a nasty harsh acrid taste.
*Cooking Chorizo has a soft texture, like a raw sausage, and will often say 'Cooking chorizo' on the pack;  dried chorizo is much firmer, like a salami.

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