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Grapes – particularly those with a good tang, make for a terrific addition to savoury salads – think of them like autumn’s cherry tomatoes. Pearl cous cous, otherwise known as Israeli cous cous, is actually more akin to pasta in the way that it’s made and cooked, and provides the perfect texture and toothsomeness to play against the juicy pop of the grape. Sousing your onions in a vinegar-sugar situation is such a great (grape!) way of upping the acidity and sweetness in this salad too.
300g pearl couscous
1 red onion, finely sliced into rounds
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup vinegar (red wine, white wine or sherry)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
400g of seedless green grapes, halved
100g of seedless small red grapes
½ a radicchio finely sliced
1/4 bunch mint and parsley, finely chopped with reserving some full leaves for garnish
½ cup toasted walnuts
1 tbsp ground sumac (optional but excellent)
1/4 cup olive oil plus a glug for the cous cous
Salt & pepper to taste
Fill a medium-sized pot with water, place on a high heat and bring to the boil. Add a good pinch of salt. Once boiled, add in the cous cous and cook for 5 minutes or until tender (some brands have a slightly bigger pearl, so check the cooking instructions on the packet).
While cooking, in a non-reactive bowl (ceramic or glass) add your red onions, currants, vinegar and sugar. This will make a quickled onion and reinvigorate the currants.
Drain the cous cous in a colander, run under some cold water and then pour a good glug of oil over it to prevent it from sticking together. Let it sit in the colander for 5 minutes so that you don’t get a soggy couscous.
In your serving bowl add all of the ingredients from the couscous to pickled onions, currants, herbs and radicchio, with a good pinch of salt and pepper (add the leafy stuff just before serving). Mix and taste. Season to taste, and serve.
Serve as a lunchy main by adding some blanched beans and grilled haloumi cheese or crumbled feta into the salad, or serve as a side as part of a bigger spread.
Grapes are best when local (Aussie!) and in season – in autumn. Feel free to sub in cherry tomatoes if making this salad in summer. Baked or steamed – even tinned (!) beets will be a great sub in winter.
Radicchio can be replaced with finely sliced red cabbage, rocket, or baby spinach leaves. Just remember – the leafier options are best when added right before serving