Couscous - kiss kiss - Thai salad and summer

Last updated 11:04 21/11/2012

With summer almost here, supposedly, my thoughts turn to lighter food, different food.  The winter offerings were fantastic but with lighter, longer days I am yearning for things like couscous and Vietnamese spring rolls or Thai beef salad. 

We had a delicious Thai beef salad the other day. It is an Annabel Langbein recipe and is so good, I know she won't mind me sharing it with you.  It's light on the calories, and who doesn't love that?  It's packed with flavour with mint and fish sauce etc, very filling, easy to make and is in my family's opinion one of the nicest summer dishes.  You can use this as a base, and then add any other ingredients you like to it as I have done.

Thai beef saladSteak (your preference) but about 150g - 200g per person (I used about 800 gms for four)

Splash of fish sauce

Salt and pepper and oil

Vermicelli rice noodles (my addition) small packet, you don't want to swamp the dish with noodles

1 telegraph cucumber or 3 Lebanese cut into small batons

1 small red onion

4 spring onions

24 cherry tomatoes

40 mint leaves

4 tbsp fresh coriander

Deep fried finely sliced shallots and garlic (my addition)

Roasted cashews (my addition)

Thai sweet chilli jam (Annabel's recipe) or make it up with 2/3 cup bottled sweet chilli sauce, zest of two limes, 1 tspn lime juice and 2 tspns fish sauce 

Season your steak with the fish sauce and S&P, cook to your liking and leave to rest while you prepare the salad.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.  Leave to drain and cool then cut up finely with scissors.  Add to the bowl.

Halve the onion and finely slice, and finely slice the spring onions, halve the tomatoes, chop the coriander and tear up the mint leaves and put into a bowl. 

Slice the beef across the grain thinly (makes for more tender eating) and place in the bowl with the other ingredients and any juices from the meat.

Mix all the meat, noodles and vegetables together with the dressing and toss gently to ensure it's all coated.

This is delicious served with a combination of deep fried garlic and shallots on top.  You could even add some cashews to it if you like.  The beauty of this dish is that you use the recipe as a base and add any other ingredients you like.  It's perfect for those who have gluten issues too. 

If you aren't keen on the beef, you can substitute with chicken or prawns, or leave the meat out but add more cucumber and tomatoes for a vegetarian dish.  Once you have the foundation, you can go anywhere with this dish. 

It's great to take on a picnic or serve al fresco on a warm summers evening.  Talk to your local brewer or bottle store and try to find a nice cold beer to have with this dish, even if you aren't a big beer fan.  There are now so many boutique beers that it's worth having a try of something different. 

Maybe finish with a platter of fresh summer fruits served with a champagne jelly, just to keep with the light theme - now that's a lovely meal.  One wee hint, check first before adding more salt and this dish is so full of flavours already you might not need any further seasoning.

CoucousCouscous is another dish thatis so easy to prepare and is such a healthy light choice. 

One of the males in my home isn't  overly keen on "that weird stuff", but he'll come around.  The word is that couscous is so lovely, they named it twice, isn't that cute? 

It doesn't have a lot of flavour on its own but is a great vehicle for any other flavour you want to put with it.  My brother-in-law Graeme makes a mean couscous so I of course went to him for advice on what to put in mine. 

I did leave out the fruit that he loves to put in (we all know I am not a fruit with my meat kinda gal)...but the rest - delishymo!!

Try something new this summer.  I love salads as much as the next person but they do get a bit tedious with the same old, same old all the time. 

I am as guilty of that as the next person.  So go on, have a crack with some couscous or noodles for a change.  Chickpeas and lentils...even tins of beans make lovely salads when you mix them up with onion and fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables.  Bulgar wheat, there is all sorts of really healthy and tasty products out there. 

Next time you are in the supermarket have a look at the help-yourself range and just buy a little to try it if you are unsure.  Be daring and adventurous with your summer menu.  This stuff fills you up and so long as you go easy on the oils in your dressings, is easy on the ol' figure too.

Right, I am now completely inspired and feel a bulgar wheat salad and char-grilled chicken breasts coming up for dinner...yummo!  Enjoy.

- Kapi-Mana News

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