At this time of year I love to experiment with hearty salads. I was recently flicking through Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings for the hundredth time and spotted her recipe for Roasted Cauliflower, Feta and Orzo Salad. I used to make it all the time when I first bought the book. It is a great recipe, I highly recommend you give it a go. As you already know I can’t resist tweaking a recipe and this Cauliflower and Giant Couscous Salad is my take on it.
I usually start my cauliflower recipes by roasting the veg. It really brings out a gorgeous nutty flavour and should win over any cauli-skeptics. I say should, himself could not be convinced to eat it. Instead he ate around it and said the rest was delicious. I use orzo pasta quite a bit in salads already so for a change I’m using giant couscous which is also known as Israeli or pearl couscous. It is cooked the same way as pasta. The couscous absorbs all of the flavours of the dressing and is really tasty. It also keeps well when made in advance which means when I make this I get to take the leftovers for lunch the next day.
I like to top it with hot grilled halloumi when making this for dinner. There is nothing worse than cold squeaky halloumi so I crumble feta over instead when I take it to work for lunch.
That’s two salad recipes in a row. I’ll have to publish a disgustingly rich dessert soon, just for balance of course.
Useful tips & links:
- Use this as a base recipe to adapt to your own preferences. Add some spice, add more sweetness, or use regular couscous or even quinoa or pasta.
- This is a great vegetarian recipe but to make it vegan, leave off the cheese and use agave nectar instead of honey.
- For more salad ideas have a look at my Cauliflower Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad or this Mediterranean Pasta Salad. Sinéad from Delalicious has a fab recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Carrot Ribbons and Salsa Verde.
Cauliflower and Giant Couscous Salad
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- Salt and pepper
- A pinch of smoked paprika/ground cumin/sumac/harissa paste (optional)
- 1 small head of cauliflower, approx. 300g, broken into florets
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced or roasted red pepper from a jar
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 200g of giant couscous
- A handful of spinach leaves
- A few mint leaves, torn
- Grilled halloumi, crumbled feta, goats’ cheese, black olives, sundried tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, toasted pistachios or flaked almonds.
- Preheat your oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl mix together the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and spice if you are using some. Add the cauliflower florets and pepper slices and toss through until fully coated in the oil. Roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. I like to let it char slightly to bring out the flavour. Once cooked set it aside to cool.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, make the salad dressing. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard together and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add lemon for more acidity or add honey for more sweetness. Add the sliced onion to the dressing and allow it to cure slightly in the dressing.
- Next cook the couscous or grain of your choice. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt. Pour in the giant couscous and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Drain and then run under cold water to cool quickly. Stir through a little olive oil to stop the grains from sticking together.
- When ready to serve, pour the onions and dressing into the couscous and stir through. Add the roasted cauliflower and peppers, spinach and mint leaves and mix again. Top with any cheese or toasted nuts.