I make this couscous with Saffron that I get from a girl friend who grows it in nearby San Gimignano (Tuscany). I use saffron threads but you can use powder although to me it tastes different. Couscous is very quick to prepare and while you do it you can roast the vegetables at the same time. I tried Sumac for the first time in Istanbul and became a fan. Sumac, that I add at the end, is a spice used in salads and meat in Middle Eastern cuisine and adds a brilliant lemony taste - you'll end up with a very Middle Eastern and colourful tasty salad. —Maria Teresa Jorge
Saffron Couscous Salad
Saffron threads or 1 teaspoon of Saffron powder
For the Couscous: Bring the water to a boil and infuse the Saffron threads for 15 minutes. Put the couscous in a heat proof container like a pyrex. Bring the water to a boil again, add a dash of salt and pour over the couscous. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, mix with a fork, cover with plastic film and let sit for 10 minutes. After this time the couscous will have absorbed the water, fluff the couscous with a fork or your fingers so the granules are all well seperated.
Put the dry cranberries in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of hot water and set aside.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the pealed and de-seeded squash in small cubes (bite size) and put in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle salt and Sechuan pepper and mix well to coat all the squash pieces. Put in the baking tray in the oven.
Clean and trim the artichokes so you are left with the hearts or use ready prepared artichoke hearts. Cut the artichoke hearts in wedges and set aside.
Cut the baby courgettes in medium thin slices (don't remove the skin) and put in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, pepper and salt.
Brush any dirt from the mushroom heads and clean with a damp cloth, cut the stem and place in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, Sechuan Pepper and the thyme.
After 15 minutes, remove the baking tray with the squash from the oven, give the squash a turn and add the courgettes, artichoke hearts and the mushrooms. Return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are golden but still have a light crunch to them.
In a big serving bowl put the couscous. Add all the roasted vegetables with all their seasoning and mix all the ingredients together. Add the strained cranberries, the sliced dry figs, the roasted Pecans and the coriander leaves. Stir and fluff all the ingredients together with 2 forks, fluffing and avoiding crushing the roasted vegetables.
Dress the salad: add the olive oil, lemon juice, check the seosoning of salt and pepper, add the safron powder and stir. Sprinkle the sumac, poppy seeds and linen seeds on top and serve immediately.