Let’s face it – side dishes are never going to be the star of the show, the big event, the raison d’être. They often sneak in there, almost unnoticed, perhaps without a second thought. But here’s the thing – side dishes can make a meal. And indeed with a fabulous repertoire of side dishes, a selection of your best can even be put together to form the whole meal.
By their very nature, they shouldn’t be something that’s laboured over – they should be pretty quick, easy, no fuss and in the most part will be happy to be made ahead of time so that they can then hang around until you need them.
I’m going to try to sneak in a little extra side dish post once a week now, so that before you know it, you’ll have the most awesome variety of side dishes in your repertoire. And with that kind of armoury, you can really start to have some fun …
So let’s begin with Moroccan Couscous – a simple, tasty side dish, packed with flavour, texture and colour interest.
And here’s why it is a side dish worthy of your attention –
- It’s seriously easy – no need to even turn the oven on – just boil the kettle, chop and combine.
- As a carb, it feels lighter – less stodgy – than rice or potatoes sometimes do.
- The flavours from the cumin, coriander and cinnamon give a subtle fragrance without being over spiced.
- The fruits, nuts and chickpeas give just the right level of crunch and interest.
- This is a great, easy alternative to rice especially with dishes like a tagine. No need to heat up the couscous – serve it at room temperature and the hot sauce from the tagine will do the job for you.
- This will sit in the fridge comfortably for a couple of days, so it’s a perfect candidate for preparing way in advance.
- It’s a flexible side dish – ideal as a BBQ side dish, with grilled salmon or leftover roast chicken or as part of a spread of salads and side dishes.
Go on – get the kettle on and get started …
- 250g (9oz) couscous
- ½ teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 x 400g (approx 1lb) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 40g (1½ oz) chopped dried apricots
- 40g (1½ oz) sultanas
- 40g (1½ oz) pistachios
- a handful each of parsley and coriander, finely chopped
- Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet, adding the ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon to the cooking water.
- Once cooked, fork the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper through the couscous.
- While still warm, toss with all of the remaining ingredients.
- Check the seasoning and add a little more olive oil if needed.