Summer vegetable salad with a garlic and mint dressing

Couscous and hallomi

The British have a unique ability to do ‘the weather chat.’ It doesn’t matter who you are: Queen, postman or Prime Minister, there’s always the joy of the conversational opening piece about the weather being too hot/too cold/too humid/too wet/too dry. There are two clear teams though when it comes to the weather – first the eternal optimists and then the rain campaigners, who are always delighted at impending weather doom:

The Optimists:

  • ‘Heard it’s going to be 25 degrees this Saturday. That’s hotter than Greece and the North Pole at this time of year!!!!’
  • ‘A month of rain?! Well, we need the rain! My garden was looking parched and you know the reservoirs could always do with a top up.’ (This is my mothers favourite phrase, despite the fact that Shropshire hasn’t faced a drought since Biblical times).
  • ‘You don’t need to have sun to barbecue. That’s what parasols are for.’

Rain Campaigners:

  • ’22 degrees in April. Well, that’s summer over.’
  • ‘I’ve heard if the temperatures go over 26 degrees the tubes will stop with heat combustion.’
  • Daily Mail Headlines: ‘ENGLAND SET TO HAVE SEVERE DROUGHT WITH THREE DAYS OF NON STOP SUN.’

This salad brought back memories of many of the British weather foibles. As I sat outside in blazing sunshine, enjoying the recipe below, the heavens opened, and in spectacular fashion rained cats and dogs….so I just had to call up my mother and tell her about it.

Serves 4 (or packed lunch for 1, for the week). Taken from Good Food.

Ingredients:Couscous outside

  • 250g couscous
  • 250ml vegetable stock, boiling
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g courgette, sliced on the slant
  • 300g small vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
  • 250g pack halloumi cheese, thickly sliced and then halved lengthways

For the Dressing:

  • 125ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • ½ tsp sugar

Method:

  1. Tip the couscous into a bowl, pour the boiling stock over and mix well with a fork. Cover with a plate and leave for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, tip all the dressing ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Fluff up the couscous with a fork, stir in the chickpeas and follow with half the dressing. Mix well and pile on to a large serving dish.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgette slices over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until dark golden brown. Lift out on to kitchen paper. Now put the tomatoes cut-side down into the pan, and cook for another couple of minutes until tinged brown on the underside. Top the couscous with the courgettes and then the tomatoes.
  3. If the pan is dry, pour in a little more oil and heat it up, then add the halloumi strips and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning them over from time to time, until crisp and sizzled brown. Pile on top of the tomatoes, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serve as soon as possible.

Directions for use: Embrace the British weather and thank our lucky stars we don’t live in sun kissed lands…. what on earth would we talk about……?

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