We all have our favourite hangover cures.
The true classic is a fry-up (which, in my case, must – must – involve a cheese omelette, or you shall share my pain), though occasionally I prefer something along the lines of death by chocolate, and when it’s so bad I literally can’t cope with ingesting anything solid, there’s the classic option of downing a glass or three of what ever bit me the night before… presuming I can look at it without crying. Some folks take the Copious Quantities of Lucozade route, but I refuse to touch the stuff, so let’s not go there. Let’s go here:
My Unbelievably Restorative Couscous. This culinary beauty requires very little effort, is pleasantly savoury, comforting, and is a lot healthier than any of the above. I should point out that you needn’t be suffering from a hangover in order to enjoy this, but should you be crawling miserably beneath the over-hang, may I strongly recommend this dish – which is delicious hot or cold, so could be prepared well before you embark on your mission to give your liver a run for its money, and be waiting patiently for you in the fridge when you eventually regain a certain level of consciousness.
I made this on a night when a friend of mine sought refuge by way of crash-landing on the spare bed. We both felt decidedly rough (perhaps she’d been playing a gig or we’d been DJing on Brick Lane) and peckish, so I staggered to the kitchen and emerged with a huge mixing bowl of this, and two forks – the idea of dealing with plates was too much. We dug in, and as we wearily lifted utensils to mouths, there was an audible sigh, for which I’ve no idea which one of us was responsible, we were both so grateful for the beautiful forkfuls of slightly warm couscous clinging to crunchy bits of sweet pepper and sticky, deliciously salty feta.
It was this friend who dubbed the dish ‘restorative’, and she was so right.
This is also my go-to offering if I cook for others, especially if I’m unsure of their taste. It’s wonderful in summer or winter, is mildly sweet, savoury, slightly stodgy, not too heavy, and boasts a gorgeous variety of textures and colours… And if my hangover loves it, then so do I.
A word about couscous: I forget when and why, but at some point I tried to explain to someone what exactly couscous is. I failed miserably, only establishing that it is not rice, quinoa, or bulgur wheat… It is wheat, however. It’s tiny granules of semolina wheat that cook up
P’s Unbelievably Restorative Couscous
- 100g Plain couscous
- Garlic powder, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Mild chilli powder, to taste
- 1 Pepper (I prefer orange, yellow is also rather aesthetically pleasing)
- 1 Red onion
- 1/2 Courgette
- 6-8 sprigs Asparagus
- 1 Tomato or 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 block feta cheese (or less… or more… more? yes.)
Couscous is especially hangover friendly because it is so low maintenance – I mean, it might as well switch the kettle on and crawl into the pot all by itself. (Actually, that would be extremely creepy… Moving on.) It also cooks in virtually no time at all, so best to prep your veggies before even considering putting the water on to boil.
Not all the veg needs cooking, certainly the courgette and asparagus could do with some frying pan time, and, depending on your views regarding raw onion, so could our little purple friend, below. I start with the courgette, stir frying on a med-high heat for a few minutes, then add the onion, and just as the courgette is going slightly translucent and the onion is softening, I throw in the chopped up asparagus, which should quickly turn a rather fetching shade of bright green.
Beacuse I enjoy the play of temperatures as well as textures, I keep the tomato(es) and pepper aside as cool elements to add to the warm dish.
Which brings us to the couscous. To how ever much uncooked ‘cous you use, add double that in water. My method is to fill a measuring cup with the dry ingredient, dump that in a saucepan, and refill the measuring cup twice with boiled water from the kettle, adding it to the saucepan and placing over a med-low heat. Add a glug of olive oil (butter would be too invasive, I think), stir, and cover. Leave the saucepan alone for about five minutes – when you lift the lid, you will be greeted by fat grains of couscous, which have sucked up all the water and fluff up like a dream when agitated with a fork.
Add seasonings to taste, throw in the cooked and uncooked veggies, and crumble in as much feta as you can possibly bear to look at. Stir and devour. Possibly at the same time. Dignity went out the window with that second bottle of Pinot Owmyhead.
If feeling particularly bad for yourself, a stodgy dollop of hummus on top wouldn’t go amiss. Neither would a frosty bottle of lager, an oversized jumper and a Black Books marathon. Just saying.
Obviously, as with any base carb (rice, noodles… rice noodles… toast? you get it) you can chuck in what ever you like, but the above combination is a definite winner. Give it a try – your body and soul will thank you. After they both give you a bit more grief for what ever it was you did last night. (What did you do, anyway, and why is there no credit left on your phone? Who’s Jeremy??) I’ll leave you to it.