How to cook couscous with cucumber and greens recipe

Braising cucumber and greens is not something that jumps to mind when you are thinking about using this summer’s cucumber crop in dinner.

But years ago, I came across a recipe for braised cucumber and greens.

I think it was served with couscous, but who really knows.

Sometimes I can’t remember where the recipes I have in my head come from!

For this recipe, I use the larger pearl couscous.

Braised cucumber and lettuce with pearl couscous recipe

To cook the couscous

    • Finely dice two shallots. Heat a little butter in a saucepan, that has a tight-fitting lid. Add shallots and fry until translucent.
    • Add couscous and two cups of stock. For this recipe I used turkey stock – that’s what I had in the freezer and I’m trying to use up what I have on hand at the moment – but you could use chicken. Bring to the boil.
    • Place on the lid and reduce the heat to as low as possible. I cook with induction, so down to number one it goes.
    • Leave the couscous alone for the next 15 minutes.
    • After 15 minutes take off the lid and stir with a fork. You have to use a fork, as to not squash the couscous. It should be cooked.
    • If it isn’t, place the lid back on the saucepan and leave for another 5 minutes.

I used Blu; gourmet Pearl Couscous, which I had in the cupboard. At the moment I am trying to use up what I have on hand and not visit the shopping centre, unless really really needed. Gabriel Gate had no part in me deciding to use this product and I would have paid for it sometime in the past.

blu couscous used in Jacican recipe

To braise the cucumber and greens

    • Go to the garden and pick two cucumbers and lettuce.
    • Slice the cucumber into rounds. Wash and break up the lettuce into bite-size pieces
    • Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, that has a tight-fitting lid.
    • Add the cucumber and fry off for a couple of minutes. Add the greens.
    • Add one cup of white wine (I had to open a bottle for this and drank the rest).
    • Season with salt, white pepper and sugar. Place lid on the saucepan and cook for five minutes over medium heat.

To finish off, fold the cooked cucumber and lettuce into the couscous.



How to quinoa with shiitake mushrooms recipe

I am using up what is in my cupboards, making BM eat the meals that I come up with.

I opened the herb cupboard and there was a jar of dried Shiitake mushrooms, looking back at me, waiting to be re-hydrated, cooked and eaten.

As I am on a ‘how to cook Quinoa’ cooking binge, I thought ‘hey, let’s cook the shiitake with the quinoa’ for tonight’s dinner, what have we got to lose.

I'm going to cook this recipe in the pressure cooker.

Quinoa with Shiitake mushrooms

As the Shiitake mushrooms are dried and need soaking, I put them in the pressure cooker bowl first, then top with two parts boiling water, followed by 1-part quinoa.

You must place the mushrooms, water and quinoa in this order, so the mushroom can re-hydrate a little as the pressure cooker heats up.

For this recipe, I’m calling a part, a 500-millilitre container.

I added a cinnamon stick, some star anise and cardamom pods for flavour and forgot to add salt (which the recipe needed) 

Everything was then cooked in the pressure cooker for 3 minutes on high pressure.

Season with salt, to taste.

learn how to cook Quinoa with lemon and parsley at Jacican cookingPopping up in my feed is pictures of people cooking amazing things – seafood, tagines, roast with all the trimmings – no one is really living on what they have in their pantry.

I’m taking a different approach and trying to use up what I have in the pantry first, cooking what I have on hand.

And it turns out, I have a lot of Quinoa on hand, leftover from now non-existent catering jobs.

As cooking is in my blood, heart and soul, I am going to work out as many ways to cook Quinoa as possible, maybe come up with 100 recipes.

So far, I have three.

This recipe was served as a side dish with last nights dinner (Building Maintenance doesn’t feel like I’ve fed him right unless there are carbs on the plate).

The next night, I stuffed it into zucchini, then baked the lot in the oven covered with fresh tomato sauce.

Quinoa with pickled lemon and parsley recipe.

Cook Quinoa using pressure cooker method, 1-part Quinoa 2 parts water, 3 minutes on high pressure.

Finely mince a 250 ml jar of pickled lemons and a bunch of parsley.

Once the Quinoa has cooked for its three minutes and the steam has released from the pressure cooker, but the quinoa is still hot, stir through the minced lemon and parsley.

Season with salt and pepper.



A friend told me recently, that in tough times make sure you have Brussels Sprouts. They will survive at the bottom of your fridge through everything.

chopped brussel sprouts waiting for your lunch at Jacican

Here’s how you cook them

To save on the typing, from now on I’m going to call Brussels Sprouts, BS.

I like to peel off any leaves for the outside that are past their best.

have brussel sprouts with your lunch at Jacican

You can either cut a cross in the bottom of each BS or cut each BS in half vertically.

chopped brussel sprouts into halves for lunch at Jacican

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Blanc your BS in the boiling water for 2 minutes. I do less time, not more, as I like my BS still crispy. Not grey and soggy. 

Dice a couple of strips of bacon and one onion.

Heat a frying pan. Add a spoonful of butter. Melt.

Add the bacon and onion to the frypan. Fry off until the bacon is crisp, and the onion cooked.

Throw in the BS. Fry off until they start to brown.

fry your brussel sprouts in a frypan with bacon and onion

To finish the BS off, pour in ½ cup of white wine. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and the chef’s secret ingredient, sugar.  

On this day, I’ve served mine with a rack of Wattlebank park farm lamb

Brussel sprouts served with lamb rack at Jacican lunch

Stay safe and keep cooking!


In the Garden, edible flowers.

October is traditionally the month of the year that the vegetable garden is at its leanest. The season is between slow-growing winter vegetables going to seed and the yet to be warm enough to plant out the summer crops.

I’ve been thinking about this and how I ‘think’ that there’s not much in my kitchen garden. The only thing is I forget that I pick and cook something out of it every day. 

I thought I would start writing down a list each month of what I’m eating from the kitchen garden, focusing on one type of edible plant. Even though October is a little lean, by way of vegetables, there is one plant that I have more than enough of … flowers.

October is the middle of spring and spring means a lot of flowers. Because I like to use everything in the kitchen garden, I’ve planted a lot of edible and companion flowering plants over the years. 

The Flowers

You can walk around the garden and snack on any of these flowers, this October …

apple geranium

Apple geranium

I would really snack on this one, as it doesn't really have any flavour.

It would go wonderfully in a dry flower thing and it a great companion plant for the kitchen garden. 



I never planted the borage. It just moved in from the neighbours. Now it's all through the kitchen garden. The flowers are rumored to taste like oysters, but I think they just taste like green!



Pick a large bucket of it. Ferment with lemons and oranges, cover with water for 5 days. Strain and measure how much liquid you have.

Add a third of the volume of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Bottle and save for later.

Now you have Elderflower cordial. 


Fennel seed

For a while, I couldn't get fennel to set in the kitchen garden. 

I brought some from the plant person at the farmers market. She said that if I planted it out and let it go to seed, I'll have fennel forever. 

For the time being this means that I have a lot of lovely seed and pollen to use in salads, cakes, desserts or with pasta. 



Another plant that I struggled to grow in the first few years at Jacican. Now it grows like a weed (and I pull it out like a weed)

You can eat the mustard flavoured leaves and flowers. great in a salad. I think back in the day, they where eaten in white bread as a sandwich! 

pineapple sage

Pineapple sage

Use a lot on those competition cooking shows. In my kitchen garden, it grows by itself. Loves a hard prune.

You can just pull the sweet flowers off and eat like a lolly. I like to bake them into a vanilla butter cake for something a little fancy.  



Lovely with lamb, you can use the cakes in cakes for a savoury flavoured dessert. Sprinkled on top of ice cream for something a little different. 



it's everywhere in my kitchen garden. And what lovely flowers. 

I seem to add sage to many things. The flowers are great in salads or served as a garnish with beef. 



An Australian native that grows in dry coastal area. In dry times it is feed to sheep or these days, so they can charge more.

I cook the leaves under lamb for a very salty jus. You can use the flowers just like salt. But they come with a warning ... they are very very salty. 



Thyme, thyme, thyme .. what's become of me!

Bake these tiny flowers into a vanilla cake or flavour ice-cream 

Now for everything else I have to eat out the kitchen garden, this October ...

The vegetables

Vegetables that are coming out of the Jacican kitchen garden this October are …


Very young potatoes


Young garlic (you use it like spring onions)

Last year’s shallots



Brussel sprouts

The greens

Green leafy plants that grow pretty much by themselves in the Jacican kitchen garden and you can eat this October …


Warragul greens



The herbs

Never by herbs from a shop when you’ve got these growing in the kitchen garden this October ...

Parsley … so much parley

All the thymes you can think off

Lemon & lime balm

So much mint and in 5 or more flavours

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