What’s cooking today: Chicken couscous salad

What’s cooking today: Chicken couscous salad
Tony Jackman’s chicken couscous salad. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

This is a throw-it-together salad for one of those hot summer days when you don’t have the energy to do anything much more than, well, throw something together for supper.

There’s something pretty cool about couscous. Something about those tiny grains, soft but with just a bit of bite. They lend themselves to green and red things, crunchy things and a dressing containing a bit of chilli. Perhaps even a bit of chilli too.

If you follow my recipes, you’ll know by now that I like to make a light supper out of leftover roast chicken, so it’s not by chance that I tend to choose a large bird to roast, so that I know there will be some left over. If you think about it, this makes economic sense. You’re spending more for a larger fowl, but you’re getting a second meal out of it.

(Serves 2 to 4)


2 or 3 cups cooked roast chicken, shredded or sliced

4 spring onions, chopped

1 cup diced ripe, firm baby tomatoes

1 red pepper, deseeded and diced small

1 cup of cubed cucumber

2 garlic cloves, one sliced in half, the other finely chopped

Red chillies, to suit your palate

A handful of basil leaves, fresh, torn

2 cups of prepared couscous, made to the packet instructions

1 tsp white sesame seeds


Juice of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp peanut oil

2 Tbsp vin cotto

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard


Pour hot (not boiling) water over the couscous, having measured enough to make about two cups when ready (there’s a chart on the box). Leave it for five minutes or more, and once it has absorbed all the water and cooled, fluff it with a fork to separate the grains.

Rub the inside of a salad bowl with the halved garlic clove. Chop those two halves and the rest very finely, to add to the dressing.

Mix the dressing ingredients together in the salad bowl and stir in the chopped garlic. 

Shred or slice the leftover roast chicken, discarding any skin, bone and gristle. Place in a prep bowl (not the bowl you’ll be serving it in) and add the spring onions, tomatoes, pepper, cucumber and chillies.

Add these salad ingredients to the salad bowl. Tear the basil and stir it in. Toss the couscous through.

Lightly toast 1 tsp sesame seeds and scatter them over. Garnish with fresh basil. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.


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