Wedding couscous with herbs & flowers

Wedding couscous with herbs & flowers

New Feast
Alan Benson

Named for the part it played in Lucy’s wedding dinner! With its lavish use of herbs, nuts, barberries and pomegranates, and its exotic flower petal garnish, this certainly feels special enough to be part of any celebration menu. But, in reality, like most couscous dishes, it’s blissfully easy to put together. It is delicious eaten hot with harissa broth (see below), or at room temperature as a salad. Either way, serve with plenty of yoghurt alongside.

Traditionally, couscous is steamed over a rich broth, which swells the individual grains to flavoursome plumpness. However, most people these days opt for speed and slosh on boiling water instead of the more timeconsuming steaming. A word of caution: don’t just leave the couscous to sit or it will set into a solid lump. Follow the method described below and you should achieve lovely separate and free-flowing grains.


Quantity Ingredient
200g couscous
70ml extra-virgin olive oil
250ml boiling water
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely shredded
1 orange, finely zested
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons barberries
25g pistachios
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup shredded tarragon leaves
1/3 cup shredded purple basil
a handful edible flowers, to garnish
greek-style yoghurt, to serve

Harissa broth

Quantity Ingredient
1-2 tablespoons Savoury butters, use green harissa
400ml vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the couscous in a bowl and add a tablespoon of the oil. Use your fingers to rub it into the couscous as evenly as you can. Pour in the boiling water and stir it well. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes, stirring with a fork from time to time to prevent the couscous from clumping together. When the couscous is cool, use your fingers to break down any remaining small clumps and to make sure it is all flowing freely. If you’re not using the couscous straight away, chill in a sealed container for up to 2 days. To reheat, tip the couscous into a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Microwave on high for 2–3 minutes. This ‘mini-steam’ should help make the grains even fluffier. If you don’t have a microwave oven, warm the couscous through in a saucepan.
  2. When ready to serve, transfer the couscous to a serving bowl. Add the chilli and orange zest and mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir the green harissa into the vegetable stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Season, to taste, then pour into a serving jug.
  4. Melt the butter in a small frying pan. Add the barberries and pistachios and sauté for a minute, just to warm them through. Add to the couscous, together with the pomegranate seeds and herbs, and toss everything together well. Scatter on the rose petals, if using, and serve with the jug of hot harissa broth and plenty of cold creamy yoghurt on the side so that people can help themselves.
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