To combat an endless winter


I must apologise. While searching through the archives of Guac on the hunt for a curry recipe I realised just how long winter has held centre stage here. Don't get me wrong, I love comfort food and hunkering down for the night probably a lot more than the next person, (got the personal best of six roast dinners in seven days to prove it) but I think my capacity for stodge has reached its limit.


Here's a lunch or even brunch to add a little colour to the end of the coldest March in more than 50 years. This salad is warm, filling and perfect for anyone totally sick of porridge. The garlic in the spinach and herb pesto is left raw so it really comes through against the lemon juice, cutting through the giant cous cous and the olive oil. You could make a more traditional pesto with basil leaves and pine nuts, but basically it was too cold and windy for me to leave the house so I went with something different! 

-One last thing- don't bother with sourcing giant cous cous from the posh bit of the supermarket- if you have any newsagents with a good food section or local shops they will usually sell it in packets at around a third of the price. 

Giant cous cous with spinach pesto, grilled tomatoes and puy lentils

Serves 2 for a big lunch

Ingredients
150g giant cous cous
Olive oil
1 handful spinach leaves
1 spring thyme
2 sprigs of parsley
Seasoning
1 garlic clove chopped small
Juice 1 lemon, half for the pesto, half for serving
2 tomatoes, chopped in half
2 inches cucumber, cut into slices
1 spring onion, cut into slices
125g cooked puy lentils 

In a medium pan on medium heat, gently fry the giant cous cous for about 60 seconds in olive oil, until it just begins to sizzle. Then pour in around 300ml of cold water and let it cook for around 15 minutes.

In this time you can make the pesto: in a small pan heat the spinach with just enough water for it to cook in, and take off the heat the minute it's wilted down. Drain the water away, and now blend the spinach in a jug with a handblender, a mixer or even a pestle and mortar, with the leaves from one sprig of thyme, 2 springs of parsley, plenty of salt and pepper and the garlic. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and half the lemon juice and check the seasoning. 


Give the cous cous a stir to make sure it isn't sticking to the pan, then either grill or fry in a little oil the tomatoes with plenty of black pepper. While all this is cooking you can chop the cucumber and spring onion ready for assembling the salad.

Once the cous cous is ready turn off the heat and add in the pesto to the pan so it takes on some of the flavour of the pesto at the very end of its cooking time. Then add the puy lentils and check the seasoning once more. 

Assemble on a large plate with the roast tomatoes, cucumber and spring onion on top, with any extra spinach leaves or olive oil for serving.