Pan-fried couscous cake of red onion and pinenuts with green olive tapenade and spiced roast peppers with spinach

I’ve talked before about how much I love Denis Cotter’s books, even if an awful lot of the recipes are full of dairy produce. But since I’ve got better at cooking I decided it was time to veganise another of his recipes. It was a bright sunny day and I was looking for something light and summery. I still had some Redwood’s Greek Style cheese substitute (aka feta), and decided to try it in a vegan version of the dish above.

I didn’t even realise until I was halfway through making it, that this was the last meal I cooked before I became vegan. I didn’t especially choose it to be that way – it just happened. And I’m pleased to report that this dish is every bit as good as the non vegan one was.

The green olive tapenade and spiced peppers and spinach are vegan anyway, so no problems there (I also threw half a tin of chickpeas in with the spinach as I had them knocking around).  They’re both delicious anyway and would be worth making on their own to use in other dishes. The issue was the couscous cakes and how I was going to make them stay together without eggs, and using the vegan feta. I probably could have found a way to do that but I decided instead to take a slightly safer route and play with the millet recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance instead, as I know that sticks together well and can be panfried. So all I did was leave out the spinach but add in the red onion, pinenets and feta instead. The texture is similar to the couscous cake I remembered but I bet you could use couscous if you’re braver than me.

I had forgotten that you need to let the millet sit for ages before you can really be sure it’ll hold together well enough to fry, so I rushed mine a bit and it worked but was a touch delicate. The taste was great though, and the 3 parts of the dish worked just as well together as I remembered.

I’ve earmarked some other dishes I want to veganize now too!

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3 thoughts on “Pan-fried couscous cake of red onion and pinenuts with green olive tapenade and spiced roast peppers with spinach

  1. I usually use packet couscous mix, and am trying to make my own from scratch but it keeps going gluggy – dont know if its too much/too little water. Anyway as I already had added pinenuts, parsley, and sumac didnt want to waste it so tried frying it. Very nice, who’d have thought. Will add red onion next time and serve with fish coated in dukkah and moroccan sweet potato/chickpea salad. Just watch the couscous will be perfect next time and no good for frying!!

    • This is long overdue, but if your couscous is going “gluggy” it might be because you’re frying it right after cooking it. Try cooking it in the morning and leaving it in the fridge all day. Or overnight. At least. It’s the same with fried rice. Good restaurants know starting with cold rice is the most important part…otherwise the frying part of the dish gets gummy.

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