Giant Couscous Salad with Sunshine Dressing

Some days, I stop for a moment and look at what I'm doing and I'm so happy I decided to move back. I've got my family and my friends around me, finally, after 5 long years of being away. But on other days, I must admit... I miss London.

It's not just all there is to do in London, which is ALOT. Museums, exhibitions, concerts, pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, street food, parks, old shit, new shit, weird shit, cool shit - you name it, London's got it.

Beyond all the fun stuff, it's that sense of being able to do anything that I miss, if you know what I mean. Not in that 'reach for the stars' sort of way - but in the way that London has an air of freedom about it. You can basically do what you want, and it's okay. Be as eccentric as you want, and it's fine.

Of course, like most Singaporeans studying overseas, the independence you get living alone as opposed to living with your parents is totally addictive and hard to let go of. But you know what, it isn't just that. This is like independence from rules and norms, and it's totally freeing.

One of our favourite things to do in London was to hang out at Princi, an Italian bistro. Without fail, we would order the Giant Couscous Salad with Crayfish. It's just one of those dishes that satisfies, rain or shines, cold or hot.

But of course, it fits in perfectly in our Singaporean weather. The crunch of the vegetables refreshes, while the chewy grains of giant couscous offer the perfect amount of sustenance. And I really mean sunshine dressing when I say it. The lemon, basil and garlic just transports you to somewhere warm, sunny and Mediterranean. Giant couscous is also known as Israeli couscous - it is so different from the fine, fluffy normal couscous. Chewy and bouncy, this is so my thing. I found this in a Cold Storage, under the Waitrose brand. Yay!

I also found these cute little sweet crunchy peppers. I find that small peppers have a sweeter taste and more delicate texture than the big bell peppers, but it really is a minute difference, so go ahead and replace with normal capsicum. Also, if you can't find Giant Couscous, the same amount of cooked and cooled pearl barley (available literally everywhere) is a perfect substitute.

Giant Couscous Salad with Sunshine Dressing

Serves 4 as a starter/side; or 2 as a main

120g uncooked Giant Couscous (or pearl barley)

6-8 small red and yellow peppers (or 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper)

1 cucumber

8-10 prawns, cooked (this salad is still great without the prawns if you want a veggie option)

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

A generous handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 garlic clove, grated

Salt and pepper

Prepare the Sunshine dressing. In a bowl, mix the grated garlic, paprika, lemon juice and zest. While whisking, drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Finally, stir in the basil and season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.

De-stem and deseed the peppers and cucumbers, and cut them into 1-cm cubes. Cut the prawns into bite-sized pieces. [I cooked my prawns by poaching them for about 4 minutes in boiling water, and then cooling them in cold water].

Cook the giant couscous according to packet instructions, but towards the shorter end of the cooking time scale. This packet said to boil it for 6-8 minutes, stirring. I cooked it for 6, then drained and rinsed the couscous under cold water. It should be quite chewy after cooking, because we're going to let the salad sit in its dressing, and the couscous will soften up while soaking up the juices.

Once the couscous has drained well, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Put away in the fridge for about an hour. When serving, taste and season if needed. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and serve.