I always feel sorry for the butchers when people advocate a Meat Free Monday. Diane Bibby redeems herself here in my eyes by suggesting that this delicious vegetarian dish be served with a steak or chicken.
She says, “It’s a veritable colour fest for Meat Free Monday. Sweet peppers, butternut and aubergines are oven roasted with coriander and cumin, tossed with herbed couscous, topped with hunks of salty, grilled feta and drizzled with a crushed pistachio and lemon dressing. Let’s get into healthy and do this.
There’s not much to say about this dish other than, SUPER-YUM. If choosing food were based on visual appeal, I’d definitely favour this roast vegetable and couscous salad, based predominantly on the colour factor. As fickle as it may seem, our food choices are largely based on ‘looks’. Here, sweet, caramelised vegetables are balanced with salty feta and a palate cleansing citrus dressing. The couscous brings the entire salad together and turns this dish into a complete and satisfying light supper. Roasting the vegetables intensifies the flavours and caramelises the natural sugars, especially the butternut and peppers. Cumin and coriander lend a warm, earthy slant and compliment the aubergines perfectly.
Now for the feta….. Pan roasted feta is quite unlike anything you can imagine. It softens the cheese inside while browning up the outside, becoming saltier and slightly elastic. The texture is quite similar to halloumi and is totally delicious. I’d recommend quite a firm feta though, as a soft feta will not hold its shape as well when grilled. If you feel that salad alone will not be substantial enough to satisfy for dinner, try it as a wrap. Slather a thick layer of hummus onto a tortilla or flatbread, pile in the salad, roll up and tuck in. This bears repeating, but here it comes again….. Lunch box candidate. This salad will also do nicely as a side with barbecued chicken kebabs or a juicy rib-eye steak for weekend feasting.”
Roast vegetable and couscous salad with pan grilled feta & crushed pistachio dressing
Serves 4 as a main
For the roasted vegetables
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g butternut, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red and yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm pieces
1/2 teaspoon of each, ground cumin and coriander
pinch of dried red chilli flakes (optional)
1 cup couscous
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
pinch of salt
1 bag (20g) wild rocket
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
2 x 100g pieces feta (rounds will also be fine)
zest of 1 lemon and juice of half (45ml)
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
handful fresh mint and the same of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
salt and plenty of black pepper
40g toasted pistachio nuts, half crushed and the other half roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 200º C. Line a large baking tray with foil and grease lightly. Spread all the vegetables onto tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and chilli. Roast for 40-45 minutes, or until the butternut and peppers are fork tender and nicely coloured around the edges.
In the meanwhile, place the couscous and chicken stock in a heatproof bowl, season with a pinch of salt and pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Wrap with cling film to seal completely and set aside to rehydrate for at least 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains. Chop the rocket really fine and toss through the couscous.
For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a bowl, whisk together and pour half over the couscous. Pour the remaining dressing in a small finger bowl to serve alongside the salad. Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the whole feta pieces and pan fry until golden. Turn over carefully and brown the second side.
To assemble, spread the couscous out onto a large serving platter. Lay the roast vegetables and warm feta on top of the couscous and drizzle with the reserved pistachio dressing.
Michael’s wine recommendation – CLICK HERE
Dianne Bibby is a former fashion designer, turned food enthusiast and avid cook. At 36 she hung up her fashionable hat, tied on her kitchen apron and started on a new culinary journey.
Her kitchen is a creative gathering place where meals are shared with family and friends, celebrating life and nurturing our connectivity. For Dianne food is relational and pivotal to the way in which she expresses love, care and hospitality. Currently she spends most of her time developing recipes and teaching group cooking classes.
Says Dianne, “My food philosophy is relatively uncomplicated with inspiration being drawn from diverse global food trends and seasonal produce. My recipes are not exclusively tied to any particular food preference but rather an exploration of all foods that are vibrant and fresh.”
Dianne hopes that you will be motivated and inspired to try something new, making the time you spend in the kitchen deeply satisfying and rewarding.
She’d love to hear from you – CLICK HERE