Thursday, 25 July 2019

Pearl couscous pilaf with eggplant, lentils and peas

If there is one thing that I can be sure of with a Christmas in July lunch, it is leftovers!  I went overboard in cooking peas.  And I had planned to roast eggplant (aubergine) and red capsicum (pepper) for the meal but never did.  I fancied rice and looked up eggplant pilafs online.  Then at home I decided pearl or Israeli couscous would be quicker and use up the end of a packet.  I had limes and mint to use so this just worked in making my way through my pantry.  And it tasted really good, once I remembered to run out to the tree for one of the last limes of the season to squeeze on the dish.

There was a lot of pilaf so we have had leftovers and work lunches.  I really loved it but I think it needs something else with it.  Perhaps a salad.  I am still undecided whether it is a side dish that needs a salad, or a side dish to accompany a central dish.  Whichever, I found it very comforting soft food, though the couscous is slightly chewy so it is not just mush.

Now I have a few random moments to share:
  • It has not been a great week for transport.  Earlier in the week my tram broke down halfway into a busy intersection.  I loved hearing one tram driver say to the other, you take the brake off and I will push.  Meanwhile behind me some women were laughing that it was like pushing a couple of angry rhinos (because we have had adverts warning people to keep clear of trams because they are like a charging rhino).   But I have taken more trams than I intended this week because I have had a flat tyre on my bike.
  • We watched Alaistair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spin doctor turned mental health advocate, on tv (Q and A) who made the interesting comment that we talk as though some people have mental health problems and everyone else is fine but that no one has perfect mental health.  And seeing his pain when someone praised Boris Johnston showed that the new British prime minster is not good for his mental health.
  • When winter comes I drink more hot chocolate.  One of my regular cafes (the Glass Den) was serving a beaker of hot chocolate with a glass of Persian fairy floss to pour it into.  It was fun.  Then they stopped the fairy floss and I asked why.  Apparently it came in plastic bags and had to be wrapped well to keep it fresh so they made the decision not to keep using something that required so much plastic.
  • I was sad to hear that Margaret Fulton, the grand dame of Australian cookbooks, died yesterday.  My mum didn't have lots of cookbooks when I was young but her Margaret Fulton cookbook was battered from frequent use.  And I loved reading the cookery section of magazines as a kid which often featured her recipes.  She was just everywhere and gave good sound cookery guidance and recipes.
  • On a tv show called Ask the Doctor, I was surprised to hear that researchers estimated that 1.5% of the population have coeliac disease but of that group, about 80% have not been diagnosed.

I am sending this pilaf to Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen who is hosting Eat Your Greens with The VegHog.

More eggplant recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Baked eggplants with cashews 
Chocolate peanut butter fudgies (v)
Macedonian eggplant salad (gf, v)
Stargazy pie (v)
Vegetarian moussaka

Pearl couscous pilaf with eggplant, lentils and peas
Adapted from Martha Stewart and The Washington Post
Serves 4-6

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 large eggplant, diced
1 onion diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 heaped tsp of vegetable stock powder
1 1/2 cups dry pearl couscous
400g tin of lentils, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups of green peas
juice of 1 lime

Fry eggplant in a large frypan over medium high for 10-20 minutes until soft and starting to brown at the edges.  Push eggplant to the side of the frypan and fry onion for 5-10 minutes until golden.  Stir in garlic and spices for a minute.  Add boiling water, stock powder, couscous, lentils and seasoning (just a pinch of each salt and pepper for me).  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed by the couscous and it is chewy and cooked.  Stir in peas for a minute or two or until warmed.  Stir through the lime juice and serve.

NOTES: my peas were already cooked but frozen ones don't take long to warm through.  I think this would work well with rice but would need to cook longer and might need more water (or soaking).

On the Stereo:
Greatest Hits compilation album: Queen


  1. Thank you so much for sharing with #EatYourGreens. I think this is a salad! I like the idea of pearl couscous but am disappointed when I make it, but must admit your pilaf with eggplant does look delicious and oh so green with those peas. And enjoyed your random moments, esp. around public transport! Britain can't cope when its very cold and it can't cope when its really hot! Ridiculous - I know.

    1. I think it would be nice as a salad with a little more vinegar or vinaigrette. I have eaten it cold and enjoyed it. I find pearl couscous a challenge to find the right dish - I tried a tangine which was nice but needed work and then I thought it would go with the middle eastern elements of this meal so I used it rather than rice - because rice is not so hard to find a meal in which to use it. We are a bit like that with heat but don't have many days of extremes of cold - just the occasional flooding. Hope it less hot in the UK this summer than last year!

  2. Wow this looks really awesome! Keen to try it next week. I don't often eat pearl couscous wouldn't even know where to buy it!

  3. This looks like a wholesome salad and something I would enjoy as a side for dinner or for lunch by itself!

  4. Pilafs are always lovely, whether they are with rice, couscous or some other grain. I feel like they can be even standalone dishes, but maybe nicer with a side. Thank you for sharing this recipe with Eat Your Greens!

  5. I have discovered wholemeal pearl couscous recently which when cooked in veg stock is rather nice too.

    I have liked Alistair Campbell since his advocacy work for mental health.things are much improved here in the Uk. I work for a UK service similar to Australia's BEYOND BLUE, does that have much of a profile over there?

    As for Boris... I am so so sorry, what were we thinking? Oh wait, we did not vote him in, some white conservative males with an average age of 102 did. doh.


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