8 couscous recipes for quick main dishes, side dishes and salads

8 couscous recipes for quick main dishes, side dishes and salads
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If your dinner is feeling a little light, there are few things that are quicker and easier to whip up to fill than couscous.

Not a grain but actually a small paste originating from North Africa, couscous is made from small balls of coarsely ground semolina. After adding it to boiling water, it takes a few minutes for the couscous to hydrate to soft but slightly chewy perfection.

You can use couscous in the same way as rice or pasta, as a starch to serve on another dish, especially something spicy. It also makes a great hot or cold side or salad dressed with any number of vegetables, herbs, and spices. You can even use it for dessert.

Another option is Israeli couscous, which shares some characteristics but is a completely different product. Also called pearl couscous, Israeli couscous is an extruded paste, similar to many of the familiar Italian shapes. It consists of small balls of toasted semolina that take a little longer to cook, about 8 to 10 minutes. The texture is more resilient and less grainy. It is also quite versatile.

A guide to couscous: its history, different types and how to cook with it

To show you the range of both types, you will find an overview of recipes from our archives here.

Couscous Primavera, at the top. This fresh and bright dish with asparagus, peas, scallions, carrots and herbs tilts the balance in favor of more veggies than couscous.

Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous With Goat CheeseHere’s a great example of what my colleague Daniela Galarza calls “couscous with stuff on top.” In this case, it’s a sweet and sour version of Sicilian eggplant caponata made on a baking sheet. A dollop of goat cheese melts tantalizingly into the warm dish for creamy luxury.

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Couscous Salad With Smoked Trout And PepperonciniAs my colleague Ann Maloney says of this main course, “roasted couscous is tossed in a wonderfully tart and just a little bit spicy mixture of extra virgin olive oil, pepperoncini brine, and minced garlic.” Next comes cherry tomatoes, sliced ​​pepperoncini, chopped parsley, and your favorite smoked fish.

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Couscous With Lemon, Herbs + FetaHere’s a quick, affordable, and satisfying side that can be adapted to a variety of ingredients or a wide variety of dishes.

Roasted Shrimp and Pea CouscousIt only takes 25 minutes to put together this meal that combines skillet-roasted pearl couscous with shrimp fried with a thin layer of apricot jam. For a similar combination, check out Lemon shrimp with white beans and couscous

Israeli couscous salad with chickpeas and herbsThe chickpeas push this salad into the main course, as do the walnuts and sunflower sprouts. Depending on the season, you can change fresh fruit of your choice.

Couscous salad with summer fruit and arugulaFresh fruit also shines in this salad that can be served as a main dish or side dish. It’s packed with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Moroccan Chicken CouscousGet out the Dutch Oven for this quick one-pot meal full of turmeric.

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