As ever it has been a busy couple of days picking the apples, pears, plums off the trees ‘squirreling them away’ as my father says, ready for the winter months. During this time I have been thinking about what to write about and have fallen on the subject of side dishes. There is absolutely no way I can cover this huge food area in just one blog, so I have decided I will give ideas for various side dishes over a series of blogs over the course of the next couple of months.
For me side dishes are just as important as the centre piece that makes up any meal – because they can be the thing that makes or breaks a meal. At the moment we are eating a whole host of different types of salads and couscous dishes because they are fresh and tasty. However, I am looking forward to the start of autumn and the weather cooling slightly so that I can justify making potato dauphinoise (obviously with a healthy quantity in it), macaroni and cheese and roasted root vegetables…
For this blog I thought I would start with a couple of dishes that we often serve with a BBQ: Roasted Vegetable Couscous, Tomato and Red Pepper Salad and A Mixed Salad.
Roasted Vegetable Couscous (Serves 10-12)
- 500g couscous
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Approximately 650ml boiling water (the amount of water may vary according to the type of couscous used so refer to the packet)
- 2 stock cubes (preferably vegetable but chicken will be fine)
- 3 tbsp green pesto
- 1 aubergine (cut into small cubes)
- 1 red onion cut into (chunks)
- 2 red peppers (cut into small cubes)
- 3-4 courgettes (cut into small cubes)
- 4-5 garlic cloves (left in their skins)
- 1 tsp thyme
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 200C fan.
- Place the aubergine, onion, garlic, red pepper and courgettes on a large baking tray. Scatter over the thyme, season with salt and pepper, drizzle over some olive oil. Mix it all together with your hands. Then place in the oven for 20 minutes, keeping a gentle eye on them to make sure nothing burns.
- Remove from the oven, cover with tin foil whilst you prepare your couscous.
- Place the couscous in a saucepan with the 2tbsp of olive oil. In a measuring jug dissolve the stock cubes in the boiling water, then pour over the couscous, cover with a lid and leave for 7-9 minutes.
- Remove the lid and using a fork ‘fluff up’ the couscous. Tip the couscous into the bowl you wish to serve it in and add the roasted vegetables (don’t forget to squeeze the garlic out of their skins) and the pesto and mix together thoroughly before serving.
Tomato and Red Pepper Salad
- Large 6-8 tomatoes (sliced)
- 25-30 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- ½ red onion (finely sliced)
- 10-15 black olives (pitted and halved)
- ½ red pepper (diced roughly)
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper
- In a large bowl mix together the tomatoes, onion, olives and red pepper.
- Place the oil, vinegar, sugar in a jam-jar, put on the lid and shake vigorously.
- Pour the contents of the jam-jar over the tomato mix. Mix together then serve.
A Mixed Salad
- 4 medium tomatoes (cut into chunks)
- 15-20 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 2” cucumber (peeled and cut into slices)
- 5 radishes (chopped into small chunks)
- 10 black olives (pitted)
- 30 basil leaves (torn)
- 10 mint leaves (torn)
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp sugar
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly, seasoning according to your taste. Then serve.