Couscous is so ridiculously versatile, it kind of puts all other food to shame. That being said, I tend to think of it as a pretty healthy ingredient, it isn’t something that springs to mind when I think about comfort food – that is usually a cheesy pasta dish.
Well, all that changes now.
Turns out with a bit of cream cheese, you can make the kind of dish that will put a smile on your face at the end of the worst kind of day AND it has a tonne of vegetables in it, so it’s MUCH healthier than macaroni cheese.
This will be on the table or on your lap (I’m not going to judge) in less than an hour.
You’ll want a nice big oven dish, pop the halved tomatoes in the bottom, cut side up and sprinkle on the sliced garlic and fresh basil. Then scatter around the onion and peppers and dribble olive oil over the top. Take a second to appreciate all those wonderful colours – perfect on a grey February day.
Bake all that for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the tomatoes and pop them to one side (the plastic tongs from IKEA are perfect for this), now sprinkle the couscous over the vegetables and then pour in the vegetable stock. Pop your tomatoes back on top, again with the cut side facing upwards. Bake it all for 10 more minutes
Take your dish back out of the oven (I know, but it’s worth it, trust me) and dot the cream cheese over the top. If you need to spread it out a bit with the back of your spoon, go for it. Then put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes, by which time the couscous will have absorbed all the stock, and the cheese will be even softer and all warm. And the flavours will have mingled together and the vegetables will be juicy and firm, but not crunchy and life will be good again.
Serve, sprinkled with lots of fresh black pepper and a green salad on the side. Or bread and butter if that’s the direction you want to go in. Or don’t serve it with anything and just have a double portion of the tomato couscous deliciousness.
Let me know how you get on with it… here is the recipe card thingy:
- 300ml hot vegetable stock
- 150g cream cheese
- 125g dried couscous
- 4 beefsteak tomatoes (or 6 large tomatoes), halved
- 2 red or green peppers, cut into large pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180c
- Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a deep oven dish
- Scatter the basil and garlic over the top of the tomatoes
- Add the pepper and onion to the dish, drizzle olive oil over the top of the vegetables
- Bake at 180c for 20 minutes
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven dish and set aside
- Add the couscous to the vegetables and pour in the vegetable stock
- Put the tomatoes back in the dish, on top of the couscous (cut side up)
- Bake for 10 minutes
- Dot the cream cheese over the top of the dish
- Bake for a further 10 minutes
- Serve immediately
- Season to taste with salt and black pepper