Couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash

Couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash

From "Ottolenghi, The Cookbook"

    1 large (red) onion, thinly sliced
    6 tbs olive oil
    50g dried apricots - (1/2 cup)
    1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 cm dice
    250g couscous (1 1/2 cups)
    400ml chicken or vegetable stock (1 1/2 cups)
    a pinch of saffron strands
    3 tbs roughly chopped tarragon
    3 tbs roughly chopped mint
    3 tbs roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    grated zest of 1 lemon
    coarse sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180d Celsius. (I set it at 400 degrees F.)

Place onion in a large frying pan with 2 tbs oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté over high heat, stirring constantly for about 10 mins (I used less time), until golden brown. Set aside.

Pour hot water from the tap over the apricots just to cover them. Soak for 5 mins then drain and cut them into 5mm dice.

Mix the diced squash in 1 tbs olive oil and spread out on a baking tray to roast. Place in oven for 25 mins, until lightly colored and quite soft. (I cooked it for closer to 45 minutes)

While waiting for the butternut squash to cook, cook the couscous. Bring the stock to the boil with the saffron. Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and pour the boiling stock over it, plus the remaining olive oil (3 tbs). Cover with clingfilm and leave for about 10 mins for all of the liquid to be absorbed. When done, fluff with up with a fork. Then add the onions, squash, apricots, herbs, cinnamon and lemon zest. Mix well with hands, trying not to mash the squash to bits.

Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warmish or cold.