Recipe: Meera Sodha’s Caramelised fennel and carrot salad with mung beans and herbs

The dressing for this first course or light lunch is a salsa verde, a piquant herb and citrus sauce that works well with the sweet caramelised vegetables.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

2 large carrots (400g), peeled and cut into thin batons
2 fennel bulbs (500g), thinly sliced and fronds reserved
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
125g mung beans
125g giant couscous

For the dressing
10g dill leaves
30g parsley leaves
10g fresh mint leaves
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6 and line two baking trays with foil.

Lay the carrots, fennel and garlic cloves in a single layer across the two trays. Mix four tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and the chilli flakes in a small bowl, spoon over the vegetables, then toss with your hands to make sure everything is well coated. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing the vegetables halfway through to ensure they cook evenly.

In the meantime, put the mung beans in a pan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the couscous to the pot, turn up the heat and boil for six to eight minutes, until tender, then drain.

To make the dressing, finely chop the herbs and fennel tops, put in a bowl and add the chopped flesh of the roast garlic, the lemon juice, capers, mustard and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Add enough olive oil to make a dressing (roughly three to five tablespoons), mix very well, then taste and adjust as you see fit.

To assemble the salad, spoon the mung beans and couscous on to a serving plate, lay the vegetables on top, then mix in the green herb dressing to taste and serve.




Cous cous and bean stack

On Saturday night, SheWhoMustbeFed and The VegHead had a bean tagine, with a side dish of cous cous and stir fried broccoli spears. Thus yielding some left over cous cous. There are few better ways to create the two cups full of cooked cous cous thaqt you will need for this dish. Remember that and you’re life will be moderately more glorious.

This dish also relies on having some Giant Baked Beans handy.
And its not a bad idea to have some Pesto in the fridge too.

Cous cous layer:

  • 2 cups of cooked cous cous
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds
  • 1 tablesoon of dried italian herbs
  • fresh rosemary and thyme – chopped
  • a few thin slices of onion – chopped
  • 1 clove of glaric – crushed
  • pepper
  • a generous amount of olive oil

Regular readers may notice that al that was basically a stuffing recipe, only made with cous cous, hemp seeds, and oats rather than bread crumbs.

Bean layer:

  • 1 cup of giant backed beans
  • 1 cup of chopped cauliflower florets
  • teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of spanish smoked paprika

Making a party in your baking dish…

  • Mix up each layers worth of ingredients into seperate bowls
  • In a baking dish, dvide the mixtures into 4 even layers (meaning two layers of each), starting with a layer of the beans and cauliflower.
  • Mix about one tablespoon of pesto with an equal amount of water. Evenly spoon over the top of the last layer
  • Bake in a covered dish, on high for 45+ minutes
  • Server with roasted or steamed vegetables, and a boat of gravy if you’re feeling indulgent.

Golden cous-cous

Food trivia: the name “cous-cous” is a wonderful example of a circular onomatopoeia. Cous-cous is traditionally cooked in a Couscousier – which is basically a fancy cous-cous steamer. As the couscousier cooks the cous-cous (try saying that after a few drinks) the sound of the steam escaping makes a “cous” sound, lifting the lid off the pan. The lid repeatedly lifts and falls “cous….cous…cous…cous…”. Thus the couscousier gets its name from the cous sound, which gives its name to the cous-cous, which is cooked in the couscousier.

But not in my kitchen it doesn’t, as the VegHead doesn’t own a couscousier. On other occasions a standard two level vegetable steaming pan has sufficed, with the top pan lined with a light cotton cloth. This recipe however doesn’t use that method of cooking cous-cous at all, which just goes to illustrate that random ramblings into obscure kitchen lore don’t necessarily have anything to do with the recipe that follows.


  • One dry cup of “quick” cous-cous – which is the way most people will buy it. According to the packet I buy, this is meant to be prepared by simply adding an equal quantity of boiled water and allowing it to sit in a covered bowl for five minutes. Ignore that instruction; the manufacturers don’t know what the hell they’re talking about…
  • Two cups of cold water
  • One cup of chopped broccoli florets
  • A few fine slices of onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet, light miso (pre-dissolve in a little boiled water)
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder (actually 1 teaspoon of fresh, grated tumeric root is much better if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 small clutch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil

To make:

  • In a medium sized saucepan, stir about 1 tablespoon of olive oil through the dry cous-cous
  • In a separate pan, lightly saute the onion and broccoli in olive oil, together with the paprika and tumeric.
  • These first two steps can be done ahead of time, and the rest done in 5 to 10 minutes just before you want to eat…
  • Add the sauted ingredients to the cous-cous, together with the two cups of water and the miso. Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  • Cover the pan and cook on a very low heat (the cous-cous will take up the water very quickly so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t stick). Keep “fluffing” it with a fork to ensure it doesn’t bind into one big, fat, orange lump.
  • Once the cous-cous has taken up the water (2 or 3 minutes at the most), turn off the heat and leave it covered for a few more minutes
  • Serve into a prewarmed bowl, stirring through the chopped parsley.