On the most depressing day of the year (official statistic) I was woken up at an ungodly hour by rain hammering against the skylight above our bed. The day continued on its rubbish way with an aborted bus journey caused by North London gridlock, my late arrival into work, and the sort of endless mindless repeated tasks that make you wish you had stayed in bed. On the slow bus home I tried to read and think about food for tonight. I knew that I would be making a ragu to eat tomorrow and had been planning to roast some squash and beetroot to eat with feta for an easy dinner. Somehow though the midwinter misery made me long for the fresh tastes of sunnier days and while contemplating the squash I moved away from this and towards an old favourite.
Two years ago I blogged about my very unseasonal (bad Gemma) couscous salad which has been a standby tea for a few years. Since then the general theme - couscous, lemon juice, dried mint, cucumber, peppers, red onion, halloumi - had remained the same but with one key, and to my mind very important, adjustment. When the couscous is cooked fork it through and add the lemon juice first.
That's it. I know it's a tiny detail but but I suppose it makes sense. Adding the lemon first means it soaks into the couscous before you coat it with oil. If you add the oil first it just creates a little barrier to that all important fresh taste.
Oh, and for me a couscous salad, a glass of red wine, and lovely Heston Bluementhal making over Little Chef makes the most miserable Monday of 2009 just a little better. Although, based on the first episode, if that's really what the senior management of Little Chef are like he should have just left them to it.