The combination of chilli, pine nuts, lemon and currants in this Sicilian Romanesco dish is often found in traditional Sicilian cuisine – the influence of trade across the Mediterranean from the East. It gives a lovely sweet-and-sour combination. You can use ordinary couscous but giant couscous, which can often be found in large supermarkets, is even better.
serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
- 150–200g couscous, depending on appetite
- 1 romanesco or cauliflower, cut into even, bite-sized florets
- a generous slug of good olive oil
- 25g currants
- 50g pine nuts
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- zest of 2 lemons
- handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- sunflower or light olive oil, for frying
- salt and black pepper
- Heat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. If you’re using normal couscous, spread it out in a roasting pan, just cover it with boiling water and a pinch of salt and leave it for 30 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork. If you’re using giant couscous, follow the instructions on the packet.
- Meanwhile, toss the florets with the oil, salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a roasting tray and roast for 10–15 minutes until tender and just beginning to brown.
- While the florets are roasting, soak the currants in boiling water for about 10 minutes to plump them up, then drain. Toss the pine nuts into a small dry frying pan and heat them gently, stirring often, for a couple of minutes until they start to turn golden. Remove from the heat and tip into a small bowl to stop them cooking.
- Put the couscous in a large mixing bowl and stir in the currants, pine nuts, chilli, lemon zest, parsley and enough oil to give it a good gloss. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then gently stir in the romanesco.
This makes a really good pasta dish with cooked penne or fusilli replacing the couscous.
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