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Thyme-scented Courgette Couscous

This is one of those endlessly useful recipes that you'll turn to again and again. It can be a sublime accompaniment to fish, chicken or meat, a simple supper with some toasted goat's cheese or a light lunch just on its own. Couscous is traditionally steamed in a basket or lined colander but I find this method of baking it in the oven much simpler.


Small pinch saffron strands
225g couscous
15g butter for greasing
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Very coarsely ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
225g courgettes, coarsely grated
1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Pour 150ml boiling water over the saffron strands and set aside for 5 minutes.
2. Put the couscous in a small, lightly buttered, ovenproof dish and stir in the saffron liquid with enough extra cold water to come level with the top of the grains. Leave to swell for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the thyme leaves and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Cover the dish with buttered foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
4. While the couscous is baking, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and mustard then stir the dressing into the grated courgettes and spring onions. Leave to marinate.
5. When the couscous is hot stir in the courgette mixture and serve immediately.