Grilled Garden Vegetables on Couscous

Summer 2012
food and drink

BY: Monda Rosenberg

Nothing says summer quite like a grilled vegetable salad, and this version with fresh flavours and intense colours is a knockout. To avoid spending that precious time just before dinner flipping veggies over a hot barbie, we designed the recipe so you can grill when it best suits your schedule, even a day or two ahead. Scattered over a bed of sunny couscous made with orange juice, this can also serve as a vegetarian main simply by crumbling in some feta or stirring chickpeas into the couscous. Another asset—it’s yummy at room temperature or warm—and there are directions for easy heating of the completed dish in case you make it ahead.

1 small red onion
3 skewers
1 fennel bulb
2 red peppers
1 large green zucchini
1 large yellow zucchini
1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil
4 tsp (20 mL) ground cumin
2 tsp (10 mL) smoky or sweet paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) coarse sea salt or ½ tsp (2 mL) table salt

1½ cups (375 mL) orange juice
or chicken broth
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) couscous
2 green onions, sliced, or ½ cup (125 mL) snipped chives
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
½ cup (125 mL) roughly chopped fresh mint

1 For vegetables, oil the grill and preheat barbecue to medium. Slice onion into rounds, about ½ inch (1 cm) thick. Peel off the skins. To hold slices together, carefully thread a skewer through 1 side of the slice and push through to the other side. If room on the skewer, add a second slice. Repeat with remaining slices. Set in a large bowl.

2 Remove fronds from the fennel and any tough outer pieces and discard. Trim root end. Cutting across the thinnest portion of the fennel, slice ½ inch (1 cm) thick. Add to bowl containing the onion.

3 Slice peppers in quarters and remove seeds. Trim ends from zucchini, then diagonally slice into thick oval pieces. Add to the vegetable bowl. Use right away or cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

4 In a small bowl, stir 1/3 cup (80 mL) oil with cumin, paprika and salt. If making ahead, cover and leave at room temperature up to a day.

5 Before barbecuing, oil the grill and drizzle cumin oil over vegetables in the bowl. Use your fingers or a brush to rub evenly over all.

6 To barbecue, spread vegetables out on the hot grill (they may have to be done in 2 batches) and cook over medium, uncovered and turning occasionally, until grill marks form on both sides and vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes a side. As each is done, remove to the bowl. If not serving right away, cover and leave at room temperature up to a day or refrigerate overnight.

7 Prepare couscous by heating orange juice with butter and salt in a saucepan or a dish in the microwave until boiling. Stir in couscous. Remove from the heat and cover. Let sit 7 minutes. Then fluff with a fork, separating any clumps. If making ahead, cover and leave at room temperature up to 4 hours or refrigerate overnight.

8 Both couscous and vegetables are good at room temperature or warm. Before serving, stir green onions into couscous and spoon onto a large platter or serving dish. Toss 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil with the vegetables until coated, then sprinkle with mint. Arrange over couscous. If you want to heat the dish, spoon couscous into a large oven dish and top with vegetables. Lay a piece of foil loosely overtop. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serves 6