Main Meals

Mussel and tomato couscous

25 minutes
25 minutes
Wine/Spirit Pairing
Dornier Cocoa Hill White 2006

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  • 1 kg cleaned, tightly closed mussels (or a mix of mussels and whole
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 x 400 g can tomatoes
  • 2 cups fish, chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • a handful of roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1–2 fresh chillies, chopped (optional)
  • a pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1 t ground cumin (optional)
  • ½ t ground coriander (optional)
  • ¼ t ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 500 g wholewheat couscous
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped Italian parsley, for sprinkling
  • harissa paste (if you like it hot), for serving

Soak the mussels in cold water while preparing the sauce. Gently cook the onion in about 45ml (3T) oil, until very soft but still pale. Blend the tomatoes with the stock, garlic, parsley, chilli and saffron (if using).
Stir the spices  into the softened onion, until fragrant. Pour in the blended tomato mixture.
Bring to a bubble and simmer for a few minutes. Add only the mussels that are tightly closed (discard any that are open).
Add the prawns, if using (or fish – see variations). Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. Check to see that the mussels have opened.
Place the couscous in a large bowl. Moisten with 30ml (2T) olive oil. Ladle over the hot mixture.
Cover and leave for 10 minutes for the couscous to absorb the liquid. Stir through with a fork to separate the grains. Check seasoning. Add some fresh herbs.
Lay the table with finger bowls or damp towels on the side.
Variations: Use cubes of fresh fish instead of seafood; add chopped fresh chillies; use regular couscous if you don’t have wholewheat.
Per serving: 1200.6kJ, 12.2g protein, 10.9g fat, 37.4g carbs
Cook's note: Harissa paste is a delicious North African spice mix. Find it at delis or farmer's markets or make your own at home.

Phillippa Cheifitz

Recipe by: Phillippa Cheifitz

Regular TASTE contributor Phillippa is a well-known South African author and food writer, and has won many awards, both for her magazine features and her cookbooks.

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