January 15, 2011

Spelt Couscous Salad with Grilled Eggplant

It's been a busy first week after the holidays, and going back to work after a long leave has been easier than I had expected. This week I've been spoiled by the company of some visiting friends from Finland, something I don't get to enjoy very often. There is just something so special about having Finnish friends or relatives visiting, not only do I miss them of course and it is thus so wonderful to see them again, but it is also special because I get to communicate in my own language. I only wish I would get visitors like that more frequently!

This hot and sticky weather has made me grave salads and light meals and I realised I had all the right ingredients to make a delicious weekend lunch using spelt (farro) couscous. This is a tad healthier version of the normal couscous, and I found the taste a little nuttier, wholesome and all in all nicer. I was generous with mint and lemon, and I love the varying textures given by the pomegranate seeds, the pistachios and the dried wild Persian figs I am so madly in love with. This is perfect Saturday lunch food!

Spelt Couscous Salad with Grilled Eggplant
(serves 2)

1 medium sized eggplant, cut into half and thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt

150g spelt (farro) couscous
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp ground cummin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
200ml hot water

300g chickpeas (use raw if you can, soaked and cooked until just tender)
1/2 pomegranate, seeds taken out
small handful pistachios
5-10 dried wild Persian figs
small bunch fresh mint
1 wedge preserved lemon, skin only
olive oil

Heat a grilling pan on high, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill on both sides until tender. Set aside.

Place the couscous in a large bowl, and add cummin, cinnamon, dried mint and pinch of salt. Pour hot water on top and cover the bowl with cling wrap. Set aside for 3 minutes then use a fork to separate and mix the couscous.

Add in the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds (leaving some for serving), pistachios and wild Persian figs. Chop the fresh mint and the preserved lemon skin finely and add them in as well. Toss to mix and finish with a dash of olive oil. Arrange the salad on a plate with the grilled eggplant and serve sprinkled with the left over pomegranate seeds.

Happy weekend!