Cooking with Couscous: Comfort Food Gone Global

Sorry, all you Paleo proponents out there, but this post is basically a love letter to grain. Couscous, to be exact. What…did I already give that away in the title or something? Silly me.

couscous grain spotlight

Anyway, this traditional North African staple, made from semolina then¬†steamed until fluffy, pairs fabulously with a diverse range of flavors. From robust winter vegetables to zesty¬†spice blends, it’s the perfect canvas¬†for vegetarian and carnivorous dishes.

My latest kitchen creation features this ingredient as the base for an effortless weeknight meal loaded with colorful veggies and plant-based proteins, plus a sweet and savory seasoning mashup. Just watch: everyone at your dinner table will become couscous converts!

This recipe yields approximately 4 servings, and leftovers are guaranteed. So, you’ve also got a ready-made lunch the next day. #Winning.

warm butternut squash and couscous salad

Ingredients:

1 c. Dried Couscous (I used Moroccan, but Israeli works too)

1 c. Butternut Squash (peeled & cubed)

1/2 c. Chick Peas (drained & rinsed)

1/4 c. Raisins (natural & unsulfured)

1/4 c. Raw Almonds (chopped)

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tbsp. Ground Cumin

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to-taste)

Preparation:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the Couscous with 1 cup Water and 2 tbsp. Olive Oil, then place the pan on a stovetop burner and bring the water to a rolling boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to a low setting and allow the couscous to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed — about 10 minutes.
  3. While the couscous is simmering, coat the bottom of a skillet with the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, then place the skillet on another stovetop burner and turn the heat to a medium setting.
  4. Add the Butternut Squash,¬†Chick Peas, Raisins and Almonds, then ¬†saut√©, stirring frequently, until the butternut squash has softened — about 15 minutes.¬†
  5. Transfer this mixture into the couscous pan and season with Cumin, Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Pepper, then thoroughly combine all the ingredients together.

couscous recipe

Serving Suggestion:

Although I’m a fan of eating this salad as a stand-alone meal (Meatless Monday, anyone?!), it’s also a versatile side dish for grilled fish,¬†baked falafel or another Middle Eastern-inspired protein.