Eating like Richard Armitage: Salmon with Couscous & Tomatoes

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to rustling up dinner. I’ll happily make the same dish over and over again until I’m sick of it. At the moment it’s salmon with couscous and tomatoes. I got it off the Jamie Oliver app on my iPhone. [Sunday Times]

That’s a challenge too good to miss! So, off to find a recipe for said concoction. Not having an iPhone to hand, I had to trust Google – and found it on a blog called Feelings of White, which also has a nice video to show how it’s done. So a while ago, I printed the recipe as a PDF so I wouldn’t have to try and find it again and fail when all the ingredients were purchased, and then, once all the ingredients were gathered, I set to work.

Arthur doubling as a cookbook

For this recipe, we need:

  • 2x 7oz (200g) salmon fillets, thaw if frozen
  • 4oz (~115g) cherry tomatoes (a.k.a. “a handful”), cut in half
  • 1 cup (~225 ml) couscous
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red chilli, chopped (deseeded if needed)
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, pestle-pounded in mortar
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • plain yoghurt (optional)

Which looks like this when you put your supermarket loot together:

It’s not that I don’t wish to seem to favour any particular supermarket, it just so happened that we made different shopping trips to get different bits, and therefore ended up with basil and fat free yoghurt from Morrisons, couscous from Tesco and fennel, fennel seeds and salmon from Sainsburys. For this particular venture, we decided on wild Alaskan salmon as opposed to farmed Scottish, simply because the Alaskan was leaner. We’re trying to lose weight, after all, and fortunately, this recipe is actually free (or nearly free) on Extra Easy, as long as you substitute the glugs of Jamie’s favoured olive oil with a couple of squirts of low fat spray. (There’s one they keep talking about in group, but we chose a different brand that had less stuff in it.)

Substitutions: I thought we had red onion at home, but we didn’t, so I used an ordinary yellow one instead. I also thought we had bayleaves (I remember sending the Squeeze out once because a recipe I was making required it, and we still had some – because most recipes we ever cook don’t) but I couldn’t find it at the time. (Ironically, some weeks later, looking amongst the spice jars, there it was. D’oh!) The cherry tomatoes were just normal tomatoes for this. When I re-made the recipe a few days later, I used cherry tomatoes. Not that it made any difference, really.

Let’s start cooking! Let’s start with them pesky fennel seeds. I found mixing a little bit of salt in with the seeds helped them grind down better.

Fennel seeds – before

Fennel seeds – after

1. Boil 2 cups of water – did so in the kettle. Check! Here’s where I chopped the veg as well.

2. “Place pan on medium heat. Once hot add a splash of olive oil” (or a squirt of Fry-Lite or other 1 kcal fry spray). “Add basil stalks, onion, fennel, fennel seeds and bay leaf” (provided you actually have one, which I didn’t.) “Cook for 5 minutes until vegetables are soft”:

3. “Place couscous in a mixing bowl, pour 2/3 cups of boiling water over it. Stir with a fork to break up any lumps.”

4. “Cut the cherry tomatoes in half” (or quarters, or chop up a couple of normal tomatoes any way you like) “and add to the rest of the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Flatten everything out.”

5. “Add couscous to the vegetables, flatten everything out. Add another 2/3 cups boiling water.” Like so:

6. “Add salmon fillets on top of the couscous. Grate zest of lemon. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon. Cover pan with a lid and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes until couscous is fluffed up and the salmon is cooked.”

I can’t remember if this is supposed to be a before or after the 10 minutes of cooking, but never mind:

7. “Drizzle some olive oil over top of everything,” or don’t because it has lots of calories and besides, the flavour of olive oil is yucky, “take some basil leaves and tear them up, scatter over everything.” I used a knife and chopped ’em, but still.

Serve with some lemon wedges and in case you used the seeds in the chili (on this day, I did), serve with a dollop of yoghurt to cool it down a bit.

Ta-daaaah!

Okay, admittedly, I need to work on my presentation. 😉 Initial reactions to this very first attempt was: 1 cup dry couscous a LOT of couscous for two people. It’s too much. I also used the seeds in the chili which meant that it was raaather spicy. When I re-made it a few days later, I used less couscous and removed the seeds. It was better. It’s perhaps not the most amazing dish I’ve ever tasted, but it’s nice and fresh and zesty. The Squeeze enjoyed it too, even though the reason for me cooking it was never fully explained. (Kinda left it at having been told of this Jamie Oliver recipe that seemed quite nice to try.)

Wouldn’t want it every day of the week, but every once in a while, sure. If this is the sort of food Mr. Armitage likes to indulge in, hooray, I say! It’s healthy and tasty, fairly quick to do and pretty simple as well.

Now, how cool would a cook-off of this dish with said Mr. Armitage be? Novice versus expert. My bet’s on him.


This post is part of FanstRAvaganza 2, a Richard Armitage fanblogging event running 14-21 March 2011. See all FanstRAvaganza posts from this blog. 

This year’s other participants: An RA viewer’s perspective from 33°0’S of the equator, Avalon’s Blog, CDoart, Confessions of a Watcher, From the Quill Tip, Me + Richard, Mesmered’s Blog, Nevermind, Mr. Armitage, Phylly’s Faves, RA Frenzy, The RA Fan Blog, RA Vids & Graphics, The Spooks Fan Blog and White Rose Writing.

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