One of our staple dishes at the restaurant is Couscous, Bulgur or Quinoa Salad with roasted vegetables. One day, Sara, a usual customer, came in the restaurant saying she was on a gluten free diet so she couldn’t eat couscous and could I make her a salad of some kind. I had 8 minutes to come up with a salad for her and I looked through my pantry and found a tin of pre-cooked lentils and a can of artichoke hearts. That was the basis of my salad. As I always have roasted vegetables, I just added whatever I had. She loved the salad, asked me to re-do it again, and since then it has become one of the restaurant's favourite vegetarian dishes, to which I add either Couscous, Bulgur or Quinoa. —Maria Teresa Jorge
Dissolve the salt and mustard in the vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion.
Cut the red onion in a mandolin and pour the vinaigrette sauce over it and set aside.
Tear the mozzarella with your hands so it has irregular shape and put it in a colander to drain excess water.
Bring 2 cups of water to the boil.
Put the couscous in a aluminium or pyrex tray, add salt and 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mix with your hands until all the grains are well coated with olive oil.
Add 2 cups of water, mix well to cover all the grains with water, cover with aluminium foil and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir with a fork to loosen up all the grains and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle with your hands, mix with your hands to loosen all the grains very well.
Remove the onion from the dressing and add to the couscous.
Warm the lentils and all the roasted vegetables.
Quarter the artichoke hearts and set aside.
Toss the vegetables and lentils in the couscous and mix all together. Add ¼ cup of the vinaigrette and stir.
Put the mixture in a big bowl or big serving plate, divide the mozzarella and quartered artichoke hearts on top, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, the hazelnuts and sunflower seeds and sprinkle with the coriander.
Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side.
Note: you can substitute the couscous by bulgur or quinoa, works very well with both cereals.