One Pot Moroccan(ish) Couscous

We're in! Finally, here we are in our new flat - you know, the one with the smeg cooker, the walk in closet, the amazing views? Sorry, I don't mean to boast but when you are living in your dream flat it's hard not to. It is so nice to be in a kitchen again with a fantastic hob at your disposal and lots of surface space. Our living space is open plan so I can cook and chat to hubbie at the same time, which is exactly how we like it. I know some people don't get the open plan thing and prefer their spaces to be separate but not us. If we could be attached at the hip 24/7 we would. It's just how we roll. I have a few business items to attend to before I launch into another long winded recipe build up. I am super thrilled to be in this months No Crouton's Required cookery challenge. I don't expect to win because there is some super stiff competition but it's the taking part that counts, right? One of the entries is from a fav blog of mine,  Allotment 2 Kitchen and her entry looks sublime - I think I'll be voting for this one. I've made a few of her recipes now and they really are supberb and packed full of flavour. Please do take a look at all the entries and vote for your favourite one. Obviously I'd be so pleased if you did vote for my humble Sweetcorn Chowder but don't feel obliged if there is another recipe you prefer. I should say that when I first posted this recipe I wasn't yet vegan and therefore there is milk in the recipe - I now just swap this for a non-dairy variety (usually soya) and it is equally tasty if not more so because soya milk is lovely and creamy. Be sure to use the organic unsweetened sort for best results.

Okay, back to my flat;) Bored yet? We're still waiting on our furniture (grrrr!) so we are making do with odds and ends. The thing about living near family now is that they are so kind to give us stuff to tide us over until our shipment arrives from the States (3 months and counting!). So far we have accumulated the most gorgeous spindle back sofa (amazingly retro!), a fantastic vintage duvet cover and a cuter than cute wicker chair, which I am in the process of cleaning, stripping, painting and hopefully restoring to its former glory.

As I've mentioned, we're on a majorly tight budget at the minute - this moving house business ain't cheap - and because we're quite frugal anyway we've been hitting up the charity shops and came across some great finds including: a set of 10 plates/bowls for 3 quid, a groovy duvet and pillowcase set for 4 quid and my favourite....his and her teacups and saucers for 99p each. The one reluctanct purchase we made was a wok. We own so much kitchen equipment it seemed ridiculous to needlessly buy more but the one thing we don't actually have is a wok. My thinking behind it was its versatility - you can fry, boil water (for tea - we have no kettle), make soups, sauces, you get the picture. So my challenge for the week is to make as many one pot or indeed one wok wonders as possible. The first had to, of course, be a stir fry - I thought it blasphemous to do otherwise - and last night it was Moroccan inspired couscous dish that by the time I'd finished dealing with the sofa and partially cleaning the wicker chair was served up at just after 10:15 in the evening - ah, the joys of moving!

Amidst all this moving chaos I did something unforgivable. I forgot my Mum's birthday:( I feel absolutely terrible about it and whilst this won't make up for it, if you are reading this Mum, I'm truly sorry and I vow it will never happen again. You are wonderful and the best Mother a daughter could ask for x

One Pot Moroccan(ish) Couscous

1/2 onion

1 large carrot

2 small yellow courgettes

several large closed cup/chestnut mushrooms

handful fine green beans

2 tomatoes

1 can organic chickpeas

1 cup couscous

olive oil

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp vegetable puree

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 lemon

handful flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok. Finely dice onion and add to wok along with some salt and pepper. Gently sweat for several minutes before adding the minced garlic. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Scrape the carrot and cut into large chunks - I like to cut them diagonally - and add to wok along with the cumin and paprika. Gently cook for several minutes allowing the carrot to soften and the spices to infuse.

Cut the courgette into large pieces and add to pan. Season. Chop the tomatoes into smallish pieces. Add the vegetable puree, chopped tomatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 15-20minutes. Make sure to top up with water the entire time.

Rinse the chickpeas and add to wok. Cook for a few minutes. Season.

Quarter the mushrooms and cut the green beans into thirds. When the veg in the wok has sufficiently softened add the mushrooms and green beans cooking for a few short minutes - you don't want the mushrooms to shrivel or the beans to lose their crunch. Taste and season.

Finally, add the couscous, give it a thorough stir, cover (I used leftover tinfoil and a teatowel to seal it in completely) and leave to stand off the heat for 10minutes.

Remove foil and stir in the freshly chopped parsley. Season if necessary and serve.

veganAine Carlin