Main Dish, Take away

Tomato-Couscous Salad

fennel close up

There are those days when there is no time for cooking, just half an hour to go to the canteen in between lectures or to grab some fast food during lunchbreak at work. That’s no problem now and then but if it’s a really full week, I end up buying a meal each day which is more expensive and also not satisfying for me either. So I tend to cook a bigger batch of a meal one day and take the rest of it with me the next day. Requirements: it must be easy to take away and tasty to be enjoyed cold. Here’s an example of a nourishing to-go lunch which boosts your energy.

For 2 big portions or 3 smaller ones you need:

  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 150 g couscous
  • 400 ml water (and a bit)
  • 300 ml canned tomatoes (sieved or puréed works best)
  • 50 g black olive
  • a few stems parsley (Italian parsley)
  • salt & pepper

Start with chopping the onion and heating some olive oil. Meanwhile boil about half a litre of water. Sauté the onion shortly and add the tomato paste and cumin. Turn the heat down and stir to prevent it from burning. Add the couscous and roast for a minute or so while still stirring. That contributes to an earthy flavour. In a measuring jug combine about 200 ml of the puréed tomatoes and 300 ml of hot water. Pour over the couscous, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Add salt. Be careful, the puréed tomatoes might bubble and splash, so turn the heat down again, close the lid and let the couscous soak up the liquid. That takes about 5-10 minutes but check from time to time. You need to test the consistency after 10 minutes and decide if it still needs time to cook. If that’s the case add the remaining water and tomatoes and let it simmer again for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat. It’s ok if the liquid is not fully soaked up because although the heat is switched off, the couscous will still take up some liquid. Season with salt & pepper. Let it cool down if you want a take-away lunch. Otherwise just continue.


Now it’s time for the fennel. Half it, cut off the odd bits but save the little green-herby bits from the top, it’s awesome for seasoning. Then chop into fine pieces. Same with the olives. Mix the fennel pieces with the couscous. Take the chopped olives, parsley and green fennel herbs and chop really, really finely with a sharp knife. It should look like this:


Fill the couscous into a transportable jar or box, put the olive-herb mixture on top of the couscous, close the lid and take away. Better than canteen lunch, I swear.  2014_0205_01125300   2014_0205_01441300

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