Tag Archives: tomato salad

Tomato couscous two-ways

tomato couscous

Tomatoes are back in season – hurrah! I stay clear of imported fresh tomatoes during the winter months for obvious reasons but the long wait for the British season is rewarded with incomparable sweetness and flavour. This recipe is based on an Ottolenghi recipe that has the fun title of ‘tomato party’. Here, I use a mix of different types of raw tomatoes with oven dried tomatoes,but feel free to roast some too as per the original recipe, to give even more of a combination of flavours and textures. On this particular day, I wanted the freshness of the raw tomatoes to be the focus and I already had some oven dried tomatoes left over from the puy lentil, tomato and goats cheese salad so it was very quick to assemble.

Couscous is made from semolina wheat with the most common being the tiny pin-head variety, and is a staple in North African dishes. Israeli couscous is a medium size ‘pearl’ couscous that is which is made from hard wheat flour and roasted. Then there is the largest of all, Moghrabieh, the Lebanese giant couscous that is used like pasta. All are incredibly versatile to cook with and can be used in salads, stews, soups and served with all manner of dishes. I have also used barley couscous as a variation which is not made from wheat and as has a nutty flavour and a more grainy texture. You can buy the giant couscous in Middle Eastern grocers and the barley couscous from larger supermarkets. If you can’t find the different varieties then just use double the quantity with normal couscous.

Serves 4, 10 minutes preparation and 20 minutes cooking (or 1.5 hours if oven cooking dried tomatoes)

100g vine or cherry tomatoes
300g mixed tomatoes
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
125g barley couscous
125g giant couscous
Olive oil
Generous handful of mixed herbs such as mint, basil and tarragon, chopped
Small clove of garlic, crushed
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 110C/gas 0.25 / 225F. Cut half of the tomatoes in half and place face up on a non-stick baking tray. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Put barley couscous in a bowl with a pinch of salt, a drizzle of oil and pour over boiling water – enough to just cover. Stir, cover with clingfilm and set aside for 10 minutes. Fluff  the grains with a fork and leave to cool.
  3. Add the giant couscous to a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water then leave to dry completely.
  4. Mix both types of couscous in a large bowl with the chopped herbs, crushed garlic and tomatoes.  Add a squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil and adjust seasoning to taste.

Puy lentil, tomato & goats cheese salad

tomato puy lentil goats cheese salad

This makes such a light and delicious lunch. The word lentils seem to strike fear into carnivorous eating men’s stomachs but even my previous pulse-doubting boyfriend seems to like this one. I’ve discovered a great goats cheese called Caprino, which as the name suggest is Italian. It has a lovely lemon flavour but any soft goats cheese will work well if you can’t find this.

I have used a mix of oven dried tomatoes and ordinary tomatoes for some contrast. The oven dried tomatoes still have a bit of squidge in texture and are amazingly intense in flavour. If you don’t have time or the inclination then just use all ordinary tomatoes and it’s still a tasty dish. However, you only get 3 meals in a day so you might as well make go all out and make your food as delicious as possible! Then again, I probably spend a larger amount of time than the average person thinking about food. Make it worthwhile by making a big batch of tomatoes and save the leftover ones for another recipe.

Serves 2
15 minutes prep, 1 hr 30 minutes cooking

60g Caprino goats cheese
120g puy lentils
16 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
Big handful of basil leaves (or parsley)
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 130C/gas 0.25 / 225. Cut half of the tomatoes in half and place face up on a non-stick baking tray. Sprinkle with, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.oven dried tomatoesoven dried tomatoes
  2. Rinse the lentils and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to the boil and gently simmer for 15 minutes. They never take as long as the packet says! Its good that they retain some texture or else they start to go a bit mushy. Once cooked, rinse in cold water and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the remaining tomatoes in half and add to the lentils, along with oven dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, oil, lemon juice, chopped basil and salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine then add chunks of goats cheese and scatter with a few more basil leaves. Tuck in.