No-cook Turkish-style couscous salad

Based on this recipe. Vegan. Makes 2-3 servings.

1. Boil water. Put dry couscous in a large glass or earthenware bowl (or pot), and mix with dry spices. (I used one box of Near East couscous with the garlic spice mix, and added smoked paprika and a bit of cumin and pepper.)  Pour the boiling water into the bowl until the grains are just covered. Stir with a fork to make sure all the grains are damp (but make sure not to add too much water or it will come out soggy). Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside.
2. While the couscous cooks, finely dice and chop your vegetables: one large cucumber, one or two large tomatoes, half to one small shallot or some red onion (be sure to mince this especially finely), and the tops of a bunch of parsley. Soak the cut shallots in cool water for 5-10mins to make the flavour milder, then pat dry (optional). Finally, mix the vegetables together and season with salt.
3. For dressing, mix about a heaping teaspoonful of tomato paste (not too much as you don’t want to overpower the other flavours) with a little bit of olive oil and some lemon juice.
4. When the couscous is done, fluff with a fork to separate. Mix in the dressing and then the vegetables. Add more olive oil, lemon juice, tomato paste, or salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature. Optional extras: feta cheese, sliced olives, toasted pine nuts.

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