I don’t know what it is about certain foods, but they just scream Christmas. Think cinnamon sticks, satsumas (although why you have to pay more to not have the leaves taken off still baffles me) and pomegranates. They’re about all year, but it’s during this period that really come into their own.
What to do with all these joyful festive treats? Well, naturally a lot of baking comes to mind, but I also came across a recipe lately that uses some of them in a savoury manner. I am a bit too fond of couscous – it’s featured here many times in summer dishes (and many more times besides that just aren’t published), but not at this time of year. Until now, that is.
I was working from home one day last week and I was wondering what on earth I was going to have for lunch. It was the day before I went shopping and having expected to be going to the soup place near my office I hadn’t thought about buying anything in to eat. I’d bought a pomegranate a few days previously on a whim and it caught my eye whilst I was looking through the cupboards, reminding me of a recipe in Nigella’s Christmas that I’d spotted a few weeks previously – Festive Couscous.
Naturally I didn’t have half of the prerequisite ingredients because of the utter lack of food in the flat, but in my usual style I had a look in the cupboards and made a few subsititutions.
In the book, this is served with pousins, but unsurprisingly I wasn’t cooking one of those up in the oven to go with it. But actually, it’s a good recipe without its accompanying little birds. It feels very festive – the spices and colour of the pomegranate are wonderful – and worked really well as a light lunch (easily eaten whilst skimming emails and articles) but it would also work well as a side dish at dinner. Whether you’re looking for something simple to accompany a ham (or perhaps the dreaded leftover turkey?) or you’re looking for another dish to add to a buffet it’s a handy, impressive looking but simple to make dish which will make the table more colourful.
Warming spices, exotic tasting flavours and the Christmas joys of orange, cinnamon and pomegranate. I may have made it on a bit of a whim, but it’s definitely one to be made again and again.
This recipe was adapted from Nigella’s Christmas – it’s great either as a lunch or as a side in part of a larger dinner – this will feed two for lunch or about six as a side.
2/3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 pinch of salt
100g pomegranate seeds
1 small handful coriander
In a large bowl pour in your couscous and add to it the dried cinnamon, cumin, ground coriander, paprika and salt; stir it all together to ensure it’s all mixed through. Zest the orange into the mixture and then add then juice the orange over it. Scatter the raisins over the couscous and then cover in just-boiled water, ensuring there is about 2 cm of water above the couscous. Leave for 8-12 minutes, or until all the water has been soaked in.
Fork the couscous through to make sure all the spices are distributed evenly. Scatter about half of the pomegranate seeds over the top and chop half of the fresh coriander over as well. Fork through once again and shape your couscous into your chosen shape. Chop the rest of the coriander over the couscous and scatter the remaining pomegranate seeds over the top, serve.