Prawn and couscous filo crown

    1 hour 5 min

    Here is an impressive filo pastry dish for entertaining. The filling is made with couscous, coloured golden with saffron, prawns, tomatoes, peas, spring onions and coriander. Rocket leaves add a contrasting, fresh green layer through the centre. Serve hot or cold for a special meal for 6, or as the centrepiece of a buffet for 8.

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    Serves: 6 

    • 7 sheets filo pastry, 30 x 50 cm (12 x 20 in) each, about 210 g (7¼ oz) in total
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
    • Couscous filling
    • 300 g (10½ oz) couscous
    • large pinch of saffron threads
    • 1 tsp harissa or chilli paste
    • 500 ml (17 fl oz) boiling vegetable stock
    • 100 g (3½ oz) frozen peas
    • 250 g (8½ oz) cooked, peeled tiger prawns
    • 200 g (7 oz) tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
    • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
    • 20 g (¾ oz) fresh coriander, chopped
    • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 50 g (1¾ oz) rocket leaves
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:45min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:1hr5min 

    1. First make the filling. Put the couscous in a bowl. Add the saffron and harissa to the boiling stock and pour over the couscous. Stir and leave to soak for 10 minutes. All the stock should be absorbed.
    2. Meanwhile, cook the peas in a pan of boiling water for 4–5 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Drain. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5).
    3. Rub the couscous between your fingers to separate the grains. Add the peas, prawns, tomatoes, spring onions, coriander, and lemon zest and juice. Mix well and season to taste.
    4. Lay a sheet of filo pastry out on the work surface with the short sides to the left and right. (Keep the rest of the filo covered to prevent it from drying out.) Brush very lightly with olive oil. Lay a second sheet of filo above the first so that the long edges overlap by about 10 cm (4 in). Brush this sheet very lightly with olive oil.
    5. Lay a third sheet of filo to the right of the first 2 sheets, placing it so a long side overlaps the edges by about 12.5 cm (5 in), to make a rectangle about 67.5 x 50 cm (27 x 20 in). Brush lightly with oil. Repeat with 3 more filo sheets, laying them on top of the first so the rectangle is double thickness.
    6. Arrange the rocket leaves in a line near a long side of the pastry rectangle. Pile the couscous mixture evenly on top. Brush the pastry edges with oil, then carefully roll up to make a long sausage shape. Carefully lift onto a non-stick baking sheet and curve round so that the ends meet, to make a circle. Seal the ends together. Brush the pastry ring very lightly all over with oil.
    7. Cut the remaining sheet of filo into strips, scrunch them up and arrange on the top of the ring. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

    Each serving provides

    B12 * B1, C, niacin, calcium, copper, iron, selenium, zinc

    Some more ideas

    Try a bulghur wheat and smoked trout strudel. Soak 300 g (10 1⁄2 oz) bulghur wheat in 600 ml (1 pint) boiling vegetable stock, mixed with the harissa, for 30 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, then stir in the tomatoes and lemon zest and juice (omit the peas, prawns and spring onions). Add 20 g (¾ oz) each chopped parsley and snipped fresh chives, and fold in 200 g (7 oz) flaked smoked trout fillet. Instead of rocket, arrange 85 g (3 oz) roughly chopped watercress on the filo rectangle. Spoon the bulghur wheat filling on top. Fold in the short sides, then roll up to make a sausage shape. Lay diagonally on a baking sheet, without curving into a circle, and top with the scrunched filo. Brush with oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake as in the main recipe.

    Plus points

    Couscous is a staple of many North African countries. Made from semolina, it provides an interesting starchy carbohydrate alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes. * Filo pastry is lower in fat than many other pastries, especially puff and flaky, and always looks impressive for a special occasion. * Both prawns and sesame seeds provide good amounts of calcium, essential for keeping bones healthy and strong.

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