Couscous with Fresh Mint Leaves and Pomegranate

Couscous with Fresh Mint Leaves and Pomegranate-5251Versatile and convenient, couscous is a handy staple to have in your store cupboard. When soaked in boiling water, it only takes minutes to prepare. Couscous tastes bland and is perfect for taking on other flavors. There’s room for plenty of seasonings, stock, fresh herbs, spices and additions like nuts, dried and fresh fruits and vegetables. As well as making this salad colourful, love the sweet crunch of fresh pomegranate seeds and the mild taste of freshly ground cumin and coriander. If you have preserved lemons use sparingly and finely chop when adding them, chomping on large pieces would not be pleasant. With fresh mint growing rapidly in a pot outside my kitchen door, using it with this couscous salad is a great way of keeping it under control.

Couscous with Fresh Mint Leaves and Pomegranate-5267
Traditionally couscous is steamed, the couscous sold in the supermarket is mostly instant and this means it has already been pre-cooked then dried, shortening the cooking time which makes our life easier. As its quick and easy to prepare, this light yet simple couscous salad is perfect for lunch, an evening meal or as part of a more substantial dish when served with a piece of grilled fish or chicken.

Couscous with Fresh Mint Leaves and Pomegranate-5267

Couscous with Fresh Mint Leaves and Pomegranate

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
250g couscous
250ml boiling water
2 teaspoons of finely chopped preserved lemon (optional)
25g sultanas or raisins
6 spring onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
50g pomegranate seeds
25g toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses
2 large handfuls of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
to season, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

How to make: Using a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and sea salt together into a fine powder. In a wide-based saucepan heat the olive oil, add the ground spices and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Turn off the heat and leave the flavor of the spices to infuse for a couple more minutes.
Add the couscous and boiling water to the spices, stir and cover with a lid. Leave the couscous to soak and absorb the liquid for about 7 minutes. When done, fluff up the couscous using a fork, separating the grains.
Once cooled transfer the couscous to a serving bowl. Add the preserved lemon (if using), sultanas, spring onions, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, mint leaves and pomegranate molasses. Gently toss ingredients together, season with black pepper and more salt if necessary. Serve or store in the fridge until needed. Serves 4

Chunky Cherry Tomato and Apple Jam

Cherry Tomato and Apple Jam-4927A trip to our local farmers market, a few purchases and a basket of ripe cherry tomatoes had me in the kitchen making up a small batch of homemade Cherry Tomato and Apple Jam. Some years back I participated in fairs and had made this jam using ordinary tomatoes with their skins removed. The tasters at the fair were well received, although there were a few who seemed a little horrified at the thought of such a combination… a tomato and apple chutney didn’t seem as terrifying. It would be quite tedious removing the skins from cherry tomatoes, so I have left them on. I love preserves with chunky bits and not a thick overly sweet purée.

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An Afternoon with Marimar Torres at La Vinoteca Barcelona

Marimar Torres_Marimar Estate WinesRecently I had the privilege of meeting the lovely Marimar Torres over lunch, hosted by La Vinoteca Barcelona. On meeting Marimar you immediately sensed her warm and welcoming nature, quickly putting you at ease. It’s not every day you meet the real personality behind the wines, as Marimar Torres is founder and proprietor of Marimar Estate Vineyards and Winery in California. With wine there’s  history and throughout the course of the afternoon we got to know a little more about Marimar Torres, whose family have produced Spanish wines as far back as the 17th century.

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