this week I shall be mostly eating . . . couscous salad with houmous and spiced lamb

lovely lunchbox roast lamb couscous salad
So in best Jesse from The Fast Show stylee, This week I 'ave mostly been eating . . . (pause) . . . couscous salad with houmous and spiced roast lamb. Actually this was last week and the pullover and wellies were optional!

Last Sunday, we had a wonderfully aromatic slow roasted spiced lamb shoulder. I had bought a far larger piece of meat than I needed to feed us, but with the knowledge that the leftovers would be put to good use . . . a creative lunchbox meal to save me from myself. I spend far too much money at sandwich bars. While some of them are very nice, it makes sense to save a little money if I can: (by my reckoning I saved about 20 quid last week, which can go on other important things in life . . . such as red wine!).

Bringing my own lunch to work also means that I am not tempted to eat bought-in sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise. Much as I like mayonnaise, I do need to watch my weight, so a couscous salad with leftover roast lamb was a healthy and thrifty option and proves that you can dine like a princess without spending a lot of money.

I often make a couscous salad, since it can be very forgiving. Essentially you are rehydrating the dried couscous with liquid (stock, lemon juice and olive oil) and adding any combination of pulses, dried fruit, fresh salad vegetables and herbs, even leftover vinaigrette dressing and my herb and tomato salsa.

There is another couscous recipe here, one here and one here using "fat couscous"!

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

220g instant couscous
about 350ml hot vegetable (or chicken) stock
zest and juice of 1 x fresh lemon
1 x can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
100g baby plum or cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ red pepper, chopped
10cm piece of cucumber, deseeded and chopped
3 x spring onions, finely chopped
25g dried fruit, such as apricots and dried cherries, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g roast lamb, sliced in thin strips
houmous (I used a supermarket houmous - it was fine!)
a touch of smoked paprika, to serve

  1. Prepare the couscous by putting the dry couscous in a medium sized bowl and adding the hot stock, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside, to allow the couscous to absorb the stock. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add the drained chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, spring onions, dried fruit and chopped herbs. Stir well to combine.
  3. Add a little olive oil if the couscous seems too dry.
  4. Check the seasoning (you probably won't need much salt if the stock has been salted).
  5. Top with the strips of roast lamb and a generous dollop of houmous.
  6. Sprinkle a little of the smoked paprika over the houmous and serve.

  • Crumble over a little diced feta or Real Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, instead of the roast lamb.
  • Any leftover roast meat will work very well, especially chicken or beef.
  • Smoked fish is also good with couscous, especially smoked mackerel.

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