Sometimes things work out just right with zero planning.
You pack your gym bag to find when you get there, everything is perfectly matched even down to your socks. You leave work and arrive a the bus stop for it to pull up straight away. You catch the bread at the bakers fresh from the oven, so you know it’s as perfect as it could be. Or you snaffle the last pastry at the coffee shop.
And that’s what happened with this recipe. I had aubergine and onions from the Veg Box People. I had picked up a box of chestnut mushrooms on offer, and had impulse bought a tub of green olives. Leftover chicken to go with it, spices in the cupboard. And above all, Sleeping Lemons Gin at home.
Yes, I know, I’m putting gin in food again. But there is reason behind it. The dish is a Moroccan style (ish) roasted vegetable coucous, perfect with preserved lemons and green olives. But my local shops don’t have preserved lemons (Stretford hasn’t reached that level of hipster yet, give us time), so a gin based on those flavours was a pretty damn perfect substitute, along with the juice of a roasted lemon.
Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.
This took a lot of inspiration from a few places – the roasted vegetable couscous recipe from Now Cook It the gin, and my insistence on making stock from a leftover roast. Not doing so makes me feel like I’m being incredibly wasteful. The spicing is gentle. It would be easy to add in a little cinnamon, a teaspoon of chilli flakes, and bump it up a level. But for a good roast chicken it didn’t feel like it needed anything more.
On and huge thanks to Molly over at Dexter & Jones – the Sleeping Lemons Beer was a perfect match.
- 1 Onion
- 1 Pepper
- 1 Lemon
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 Aubergine
- 150g Mushrooms
- 100g couscous
- 1tsp Coriander seeds
- 1tsp Cumin seeds
- 1tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 35ml Sleeping Lemons Gin
- 125ml Hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 70g Pitted green olives
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 6
- Chop the vegetables into chunks and lay onto a baking tray.
- Toss in the olive oil (not the fancy extra virgin stuff, but normal olive oil)
- Slice the lemon in half and place on the tray.
- Pop into the oven for around 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, pop the couscous into a bowl and pour over the hot stock.
- Cover with clingfilm and leave to one side.
- In the meantime, toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a hot pan - just enough to be able to hear them pop. Remove from the heat and grind in a pestle and mortar (or blitz in a grinder).
- Remove the cling film from the couscous and fluff with a fork.
- When done, remove the vegetables from the oven.
- Squeeze the roasted lemon into the couscous.
- Then add in the spices, gin, the extra virgin olive oil and mix.
- Add the vegetables and the olives and toss everything together.
- Serve with roast chicken, fish, Halloumi, or just stand in the kitchen with a fork and eat it.