Sunday, 22 January 2012

Full of Goodness

Last weekend I was inexplicably craving superfoods - highly coloured, full of goodness foods that pump your veins full of vitamins. I am never one to resist a craving, so I went with it. Who needs delayed gratification anyway? It turns out that, like a search dog that's discovered something grave and important, my body was barking a message at me. Call it coincidence, voodoo or just pure science but I spent the week nursing a stinking cold and a throat so sore I had to get it checked for tonsillitis. (It wasn't.)  

So this was a good week to be eating bananas, Brazil nuts, broccoli and blueberries. Especially as my working week not only included more trying to catch up after several weeks away from my desk, but also two days of packing up my office, transporting it to a new space and unpacking it all again.   

My 'goodness filled' meal of the week came in the form of rainbow trout and couscous salad. More suitable for June than January maybe, but temporarily dipping into a different season won't do too much harm. The salad started out as a loose idea borrowed from Tessa Kiros, then ended up being more a case of 'how much stuff can I reasonably coat in couscous'.

I began by roasting ripe cherry plum tomatoes, sweet pointed red peppers and garlic in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  That heavenly roasted scent was almost enough to make me stop right there and just take a fork to the dish. In fact, not all the peppers made it into the final salad. 

I'm not one for giving orders (hah!) but do not throw away the roasting juices. That would be like washing the pan after roasting a side of beef but before making the gravy. It's liquid gold! Grate in some lemon zest and just set it aside until later. Lecture over. 

The cold parts of the salad were made up of finely chopped spring onions, big handfuls of chopped parsley and mint, and diagonal slices of short-grown, ridged cucumber. It's so much tastier than standard cucumber. Finally, no superfood salad would be complete without beetroot. To be mixed in last, of course, so it doesn't turn everything else as puce as your fingers. 

I activated the couscous with chicken stock and the golden roasting juices, leaving it to cool and become fluffy before adding the tomatoes, peppers and garlic, the green vegetables and then the beetroot. I also added some uncooked cherry tomatoes at the end for texture. The roasted red nuggets had yielded under the heat of the oven. 

The fish took mere minutes to cook in a medium oven, coated in extra virgin olive oil and black pepper, while also warming through some lemon wedges. I love warm lemon juice on fish. Trout has a texture similar to salmon, but a far more delicate flavour, which works beautifully with the punchy flavours of the salad. 

As an aside, yesterday's lunch was some Yorkshire Provender beetroot, parsnip, horseradish and ginger soup. I was expecting it to be far too sweet, but it was perfectly balanced and felt like it was doing me good from the moment I tasted it in the pan. I need more! With a grating of Wensleydale and a side of buttered rye toast it was the ideal end to a week of goodness.

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