Simple chickpea & couscous salad

I suspect that I may offend anybody looking for a proper recipe to cook a proper meal with this post. If you’re that person, look away now: this salad is so very easy that a child could throw it together. Yet I am going to post it, because sometimes a recipe doesn’t have to list more ingredients than you can count off your fingers, and because I think it could help out a fellow hungry, tired, travel / deadline-weary reader.

I arrived home from home (the conventional university paradox) fairly late on Sunday night. When I booked my train, I’d pre-planned how I would approach the dilemma of having no food in the house, and probably no energy to want to cook anything anyway. In my suitcase I stowed a can of chickpeas from my first home, along with some cherry tomatoes, to form two essential parts of this salad.

As I tucked into this, in front of Netflix, with my suitcase abandoned behind me, I was surprised by the success of texture and flavour. Balsamic vinegar pairs brilliantly with couscous, chickpeas, and tomatoes on individual levels: all together, they taste fantastic. Minimalism, it seems, is a definite culinary technique; proving that there is method in the madness of student cooking. (I’m talking about those weird and wonderful combinations we concoct, and the meals we masterchef out of half a tin of chopped tomatoes and whatever’s lurking in the fridge.)

All you’ll need is:

  • dried couscous
  • a few handfuls of plum or cherry tomatoes
  • half a can of chickpeas, or other beans (c’mon, not baked)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In this trial of culinary skills, pop the kettle on and pour enough couscous as you’re hungry to eat into a mug. Once the water’s boiled, just cover with water, and rest a tea towel on top to prevent heat escaping. It’ll take five minutes or so to absorb the liquid – add a little more water if the couscous is still firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, open the can of chickpeas, drain, rinse, and put half into a bowl. Slice the cherry or plum tomatoes in half and add in.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork, and add to the bowl. Drizzle in olive oil and plenty of balsamic vinegar, season, and mix well. Finish with a last flourish of vinegar and seasoning, sit down, and eat hungrily.

This would make an excellent lunch, post-gym snack, or light / late-night dinner. Still hungry, I had a slice of toast afterwards – travelling does tire one out. I would previously have encouraged adding other vegetables, salad leaves, feta cheese – but this salad is fantastic as it is.



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