winter couscous

another cavolo nero recipe – i told you i’m obsessed!

this was a make-do version of a moro east recipe for cabbage and bulgar wheat pilaf – obviously using cavolo nero in place of the cabbage was intentional but i hadn’t realised i was out of bulgar wheat so had to substitute couscous. which was actually a good thing as it’s added a new way of making couscous to my repertoire and the result if very different from the light summery versions which is usually do, spiked with herbs and lemon.

the key top success in this dish is using a lot of butter, in which spring onions, cavolo nero and pine nuts are cooked slowly. the lemony flavours in this come from sumac, which gives a much more subtle flavour than the fresh fruit. an alternative would be a bit of chopped preserved lemon.

the resulting couscous is rich and delicious and well worth a try if you usually only have couscous in the summer. we ate this with sliced pork tenderloin which was marinated with olive oil, lemon juice, grated shallots, grated garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander and parsley and then stir fried, with a squeeze of lemon juice added at the end. this was another recipe from moro east and went really well with the couscous. sadly it was completely unphotogenic!

winter couscous* (serves 2)

50g unsalted butter

6-8 spring onions, sliced in 1cm rounds, green and all

30g of pine nuts

½ a teaspoon ground allspice

a couple of handfuls of cavolo nero, cleaned, central vein removed and chopped

125g couscous

vegetable stock (use the directions on your pack of couscous – i needed c200ml)

1 teaspoon of sumac

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat. when it begins to foam, add the spring onions, pine nuts, allspice and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes. then stir in the cavolo nero and cook for 10 minutes until they have softened and cooked through.

meanwhile, make the couscous – for me this involved mixing the couscous with hot stock, covering with cling film and leaving for 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

add the couscous to the pan and mix with the cavolo nero and onions. add the sumac and parsley, stir, season to taste and leave to sit for a few minutes. serve warm.