15 June 2013

The Ultimate Winter Couscous, from Ottolenghi’s Plenty - IHCC

This week over at IHCC it is a little bit of sunshine & as we head for the shortest day of the year here in New Zealand the timing is perfect.  I am not a fan of the shorter days, I prefer a little more light & sunshine. The shorter days, even though nowhere near as short as Winter days in the UK, seem to be able to weigh me down. It surprises me every year that June here in NZ is the month of shorter, often wetter, windier, grayer days.  And boy can it rain!  Though in saying that we have had a few sunny days as well....always much appreciated & they really do put a little spring in everyone’s step.

Back in Scotland we would be basking in day light from 4am until the well after 10pm when the sun would slowly set, my perfect kind of day especially if the sun is indeed shining! Here at the bottom of the globe there’s no lazy twilight the sun sets & that’s it lights out.  

So this week’s theme is perfect to brighten up a Winter’s day.  On a positive only a matter of days until the shortest day & then we are back on the upward spiral to Spring!  I give you the Ultimate Winter Couscous packed full of sunshine.

There are quite a few, well quite a lot of ingredients. It is however couscous & vegetables to feel free to mix it up with what you like or what you have on hand. I had smoked paprika rather than hot, raisins rather than apricots & double the amount of chilli flakes.  Along with the sunshine I like a little heat!

The Ultimate Winter Couscous, from Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Serves 4, or even more


2 carrots, peeled & cut into large dice
2 parsnips, peeled & cut into large dice
8 shallots, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 1/2 cups pumpkin or squash, peeled & cut in to cubes
1/2 cup raisins
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup couscous
Large pinch of saffron
1 cup boiling vegetable stock
3 tbsp butter, broken into pieces
2 tbsp harissa
1 oz preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves
A few slices of red chilli


Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F

Place the carrots, parsnips & shallots in a large roasting dish or baking tray along with the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt & all the ground spices and mix well. Place in the oven & cook for 15 minutes. 

Add the pumpkin, stir & return to the oven. Continue cooking for about 35 minutes or until the vegetables have softened but keep a little bite. Add the raisins, chickpeas & water. Return to the oven & cook for a further 10 -15 minutes until hot. 

About 15 minutes before the vegetables are ready, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, saffron and a good pinch of salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & leave for about 10 minutes. Add the butter & fluff up the couscous with a fork until the butter melts in. Cover again & leave somewhere to keep warm until the vegetables are ready.

To serve, spoon couscous into a deep plate or bowl.  Stir in the harissa & preserved lemon to the vegetables; taste & add salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables onto the center of the couscous. Top with lots of cilantro leaves & a few slices of fresh red chilli if you like a little extra bite.

This will definitely brighten up your day. Full of flavour & sunshine it is the perfect antidote to a grey winters day.

This is for this week's IHCC a little bit of sunshine...head over here for a little more.

If you like this you might like these...
Swiss Chard Fritters
Green Couscous



  1. This recipe is on my list, but since we are right in the middle of summer I probably won't be making it during our 6 months with Ottolenghi. I am so glad that you made it though because it really does look like sunshine on a plate. Bright and beautiful with lots of flavor!

    1. Thanks Kim, it is a great one to save for winter :) that is when we all need a little sunshine :)

  2. I love the color in this dish--so bright and pretty. Just the thing for a gray drab day. I like the mix of spices and ingredients too. Great pick!

    1. Thanks Deb, it definitely brightened a weekend & a little spice always good to heat things up!

  3. Mairi, this definitely makes up for the lack of sunshine hours we are experiencing right now. The perfect dish to brighten a winter day.

    1. Thanks Sue it does! I always struggle with June...roll on the 21 June & then we are over hump day & few more minutes of daylight every day...also then only 1 month until I hit Vanuatu!

  4. That's a beautiful and sunshiny dish - perfect for this week's theme. And the flavours sound amazing.

    1. Thank you Zosia, it did work out perfectly for this week & left overs were great for lunch too :)

  5. Great choice for this week's theme. I like your use of smoked paprika too!

    1. Thanks Michelle...I think I may have a small addiction to smoked paprika!

  6. Wow, looks so colourful and delicious! I have this recipe on my list of YO's to try! The long list of ingredients that is keeping me from making it, at the moment! I can see how good this must be! Great choice!

    1. You should make it! A long list but nothing to strange & easy to substitute :)

  7. Certainly will brighten this winter gloom! Very colourful and it certainly makes me smile.

    1. Hello Arfi :) Smiling is good! Hope you are well xx

  8. Hi, I find reading this article a joy. It is extremely helpful and interesting and very much looking forward to reading more of your work.. GQ

  9. hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community. 26 Magazine


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