Ham sandwiches are all very good. I'm partial to a soft egg mayo roll and I'll never say no to a chicken wrap; but when you have time on your hands, nothing beats the satisfaction of making a fresh salad yourself.  (When I say salad I don't mean green salad - that's to accompany meals only - but rather I'm referring to pasta with vegetables, couscous with raisins... Something similar to the wonderful delights Marks and Spencers are guaranteed to sell!)

I was inspired by a friend the other day, who was tucking into a delicious looking pasta salad with cucumber, radishes, peppers and roast chicken. Mmm! That got me thinking about making myself a healthy lunch; something a little different to my usual. (Ham and lettuce on brown bread, in case you wanted to know.)

Couscous is one of my standbys, because it only requires a kettleful of hot water and a tea towel. Be inspired by Moroccan flavours and add dried apricots and pistachios, or go for  vegetables, like me. 

We start with a bowl of couscous covered in freshly-boiled water.

Sauteé a shallot and add some aubergine. Cook until soft and transparent, then dry on some kitchen paper.

Chop up a pepper and some fresh lemon thyme. 

Fluff up the couscous using a fork. Add a little oil and then tip in the pepper, thyme, aubergine and shallot. Add some sundried tomatoes. 

Sprinkle with lemon zest and tuck a lemon segment into your lunchbox for squeezing over it when ready to eat. 

That wasn't so difficult, was it?

Aubergine and Lemon Couscous (serves 1)
3 - 5 tablespoons couscous, depending on how hungry you're feeling
hot water, to cover
small round of aubergine
1 shallot
1/4 yellow or red pepper 
lemon thyme
zest of 1/2 lemon
lemon juice
pine nuts
oil for frying
sundried tomatoes (optional)

1. Place the couscous in a bowl and cover with hot water. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to absorb the water.

2. Chop the shallot and the aubergine and sauté in a little oil until translucent and soft. Remove from the pan and dry on kitchen paper.

3. Chop the pepper and the thyme. 

4. Once all the water has been absorbed into the couscous, uncover and fluff up with a fork. Add a little oil and mix well. Add in the thyme, pepper, shallot and aubergine. Sprinkle the lemon zest over and add the pine nuts (you can brown these in a pan if you want). 

5. When ready to eat, squeeze over some lemon juice and tuck in.