Jamie Oliver has a series on TV right now where he prepares 2 – 15 minute meals in a half-hour segment (I feel honour-bound to clarify that this does NOT include the time to harvest or buy the food and clean up afterwards 🙂 ). Though I haven’t written down any of his recipes, I’ve been inspired by some of his menus. The latest was a veggie and cous cous salad topped with chicken and served with a side of tzatziki.
There was some left over ham in the fridge – that seemed a reasonable substitute for chicken. The broccoli that really needed harvesting from my garden could be used instead of fresh peas. I’ve got onions in my backyard and capsicum (store-bought until my plants actually do something) in the fridge. And I have home-made yogurt which seemed a plausible alternative to tzatziki. I see recipes as conceptual rather than dogmatic.
So my Jamie Oliver inspired vegetable & cous cous salad recipe goes something like this:
1) Put 1 cup of cous cous in a heat-proof salad bowl (this can be the serving bowl). Pour boiling water from the kettle on top. Sprinkle a bit of salt in the bowl and stir it up. Put a plate over the bowl and leave the whole thing alone while you make the rest of the salad. Quinoa or rice would also work. Any substantial grain.
2) Harvest what is ready in your garden (in my case this included broccoli, radishes, red onions, chillies and celery), pull other vegetables out of the fridge (capsicum). I’m sure taste-wise this recipe would work with almost any vegetables – but a variety of colours is a bonus.
3) Get a collection of herbs from the garden (or shops if you don’t have any in your garden). I grabbed oregano, basil, mint and parsley. As above, go with what works for you. Jamie used dill.
4) Cut ham into strips and fry. Note that this is a 15 minute meal so everything is going on at once. Juggling is a good skill to bring to bear here. Also note that this ingredient is optional. A cous cous and veggie salad without meat would be plenty.
5) Blanch anything that needs it. I blanched the broccoli by pouring hot water from the kettle over top and leaving the broccoli to stand in the hot water for a few minutes.
5) Chop (I used a mini-food processor) all the veggies and herbs together. I left out the broccoli so there would be something a bit chunkier. I think keeping something aside for the more substantial texture and taste is a good idea (Jamie used fresh peas).
6) Sprinkle a bit of lemon juice and olive oil on top and stir dressing through the veggies.
7) About now the cous cous should be done (you can taste it to make sure). Add the chopped veggies and broccoli to the cous cous and mix.
8) Serve salad and top with the fried ham strips. Put a dollop of yogurt on the side as a tangy dressing.
This 15 minute meal took 2 of us about 20 minutes to prepare. To be fair, Jamie never washes a veggie and we had lots of that to do. If you include harvesting time it was more like 30 minutes.
The result was a really healthy, tasty and filling meal for 4 people (small eaters). The 2 of us had left overs for the next day. On top of being good, good for you and easy to make, this recipe is cheap as chips. I’ll definitely be making it again.