Angela Hartnett's couscous with chicken and pea shoots recipe

Couscous is originally a North African dish, made with coarsely ground wheat or millet, and normally served with a meat or vegetable stew. But, like anything good, it has been modified to suit other tastes. One of my favourite recipes comes from Yotam Ottolenghi's Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, and features dried apricots and butternut squash. It's so vibrant and fresh.

My own version uses chicken and nuts. I cook the chicken fresh, allow it to cool, then add it to the couscous. But it is also a great way to use up leftovers. And why not experiment with other ingredients you are fond of, such as harissa paste, prawns or even coriander?

This is a beautifully quick and simple dish. But bear one thing in mind: where the couscous itself is concerned, the amount of water required may vary from brand to brand. If in doubt, follow the instructions on the packet.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish

Olive oil
4 chicken thighs (free range)
Salt and pepper
1 clove crushed garlic
1 sprig rosemary
250g instant couscous
400ml boiling water
2 spring onions, sliced
½ tsp ground ginger
1 dsp raisins
1 dsp chopped hazelnuts
4 salad radishes, sliced
50ml vinaigrette
½ tsp pesto
½ handful pea shoots

Heat a touch of olive oil in a frying pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook together with the crushed garlic and rosemary over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally until it is golden brown and a knife can go through it easily. If it appears to be dry, add a touch of water. Once it is cooked, allow it to cool and either shred the meat or remove the bone and slice into strips, skin and all.

While the chicken is cooling, turn your attention to the couscous. Place it in a bowl with a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil, add the 400ml of boiling water, stir and cover with a plate or clingfilm. Leave for five minutes before removing the cover and breaking the couscous up with a fork. Then add the chicken and remaining ingredients. Mix well and check the seasoning.

Serve in a large bowl at room temperature.

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