There are times when dinner has to be both quick and easy. Usually because I’m feeling lazy. Years ago, my standby quick and easy dinner was crumbed fish fillets in a box from the frozen food aisle of the supermarket. Having moved on from those days, my go-to simple dinner is now a piece of pan fried fish with a few easy side dishes. In winter these might be sweet potato chips and roasted broccoli. In summer, it is more likely to be this Pea and Celery Wholegrain Couscous Salad.
Couscous is easy to prepare, with most brands requiring only a douse of hot water to reconstitute them, so is a great staple to have on hand for a quick dinner accompaniment. I often pair couscous with stews or casseroles when I have no time to cook rice or pasta. The ease of preparation, and its grainy texture, also makes couscous a good base for salads.
Mr Grumpy refers to couscous as ‘tasteless misery sand’, a direct quote from a TV show we both enjoy. I do find that couscous can be quite unappetising if not prepared properly. Wholegrain varieties, such as wholemeal wheat and barley, fluff up better and have more flavour than refined couscous. Not tasteless at all. Being wholegrain though, I store uncooked couscous in the freezer to extend the keeping time.
If using couscous as an accompaniment to stews, I rehydrate it with hot chicken or vegetable stock to provide additional flavour. For salads, I just use water and a pinch of salt, and add additional flavour with a simple dressing.
This salad is easily adaptable, and I often change up the vegetables according to what is in the fridge. Green peas are a staple in my freezer though, so usually feature heavily. I quite like it with feta or goats cheese forked through. I have even been known to stir in cooked chicken or tuna to make a main meal salad. Leftovers make a great lunch, and I invariably make extra for just this reason. Best of all it is quick to pull together, so is perfect for those lazy days.
Pea & Celery Wholegrain Couscous
This keeps well so is a handy dish to have in the fridge for lunches through the week.
For the dressing
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper
For the salad
- 1 cup wholegrain couscous uncooked
- 1 cup frozen green baby peas
- 1 spring onion finely sliced, shallot
- 1 stalk celery finely sliced
- 1 Tablespoon parsley chopped
For the dressing
- Combine all the ingredients in a small jar (with a lid) and shake to combine.
- Taste the dressing to ensure it has enough lemon. It should taste quite lemony.
- Set aside.
For the salad
- Cook the couscous according to packet instructions.
- Empty the couscous into a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
- Place the green peas into a small bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes then drain.
- Add the peas, celery, spring onion, and parsley to the couscous and stir through.
- Pour over the dressing and stir again to coat the grain and vegetables.