Couscous salad

Happy Tuesday! Ok, so couscous is really simple – you probably know all about it, but demonstrating the ease and versatility of homemade food is what Life Is Jam is all about, and we want to include all the basics. So.

You make couscous by pouring boiling water onto it, covering it with a bowl or cloth to keep the steam in, and leaving it for ten minutes. I often put the dry couscous straight into a tupperware lunchbox, pour the water on, shut the lid and leave it in the fridge overnight. Then I’ve one less thing to do in the morning when I’m making a lunchbox.

You can of course make the whole lunch shebang the night before, then all you have to do after inhaling your breakfast is grab it from the fridge and shove it in your work bag.

The quantities are easy – after a few goes you’ll be doing it by eye, but at first you might want to measure:

  • 100g couscous
  • 100ml boiling water.

Easy, eh?

Pour the water on, and when it’s all soaked up, break it up with a fork. Then start adding flavour. In my opinion the basics are:

  • Lemon or lime juice – a nice squeeze (insert Carry On pun here)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil – a tablespoon for 100g is a good start.
  • A spring onion, (I cut it straight into the bowl using scissors)

At this stage it will already taste nice, so if you’re using it as a side dish for a stew you can decide to leave it like this.  For a very tasty and satisfying lunch bowl try choosing one or two things from the following categories. You’ll soon find your favourite combos:


  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh chopped herbs – mint, parsley, basil, dill, chives, marjoram, tarragon or all of those together! Coriander is the King of Couscous in my opinion, so do try that one day. Just don’t use dried herbs, it’ll taste mighty odd…
  • An inch or two of cucumber, chopped
  • Roughly chopped watercress
  • I’ve been known to chuck in chopped raw spinach. But I’m mad on green things…

PROTEIN – one element is usually enough, but it’s up to you. You might like chicken and feta… Chop up and stir in:

  • Feta cheese 
  • Cold cooked chicken 
  • Left-over roast lamb
  • Fried bacon or pancetta 
  • Cured meat such as honey roast ham or turkey ham
  • Parma ham, (also a cured deli meat so you don’t have to cook it)
  • Broken up bits of blue cheese (not too much or it’ll be icky)
  • Left-over cooked sausage 
  • Quickly-fried bits of chorizo
  • Avocado – this will go brown if you don’t eat it with in a couple of hours.


  • a sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • a few chopped olives
  • a teaspoon of chopped preserved lemon
  • a grating of lemon zest (more fragrant than lemon juice, so you can use both if you like)
  • a small chopped gherkin


  • a few raisins or sultanas (delicious particularly with lamb or feta)
  • some pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds or pine nuts.
  • some chopped almonds quickly fried in butter.


Classic combos are:- 

Tabbouleh:  lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, mint and parsley

Pilaf – style: Lamb, sultanas, pine nuts, parsley.

Anna’s basic lunch: (pictured) Coriander, tomatoes, feta, buttered almonds.

You will find other combos you like – it’s your party, have what you want.

Bye for now!




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