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Couscous is one of the simplest side dishes to cook. Sure the instant couscous sold in store aisles can’t hold a candle to real Moroccan couscous but it can be used in many different ways to create a  light yet hearty pasta that is packed with nutrients and is delicious.



A few things to remember when cooking instant couscous. Add your couscous before your water boils, and when the water starts to boil, promptly remove it from heat, cover, and let sit.  Be sure to fluff your couscous with a fork before removing from the pan.  It helps to break up the clumps and give it  nice light texture.  You can also prepare instant couscous the same way traditional couscous is made – by steaming it.

Now that you have your couscous, here are 12 ways to use it!



  1. Jeweled Butternut Couscous Salad from Daily Waffle
  2. Lemon and Artichoke Couscous with Shrimp from Foxes Love Lemons
  3. Apricot Couscous Salad from Grab Your Spork
  4. Curried Couscous Salad from Devour Blog



  1. Couscous with Dried Fruit from Kitchen Riffs
  2. Herb Flecked Spring Couscous from Katie at the Kitchen Door
  3. Pearl Couscous Salad with Olives from A Zesty Bite
  4. Watermelon and Feta Couscous Salad from Southern in Law



  1. Couscous Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Broccoli from Wine Dine Daily
  2. Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onions & Herbs from The Kitchn
  3. Mediterranean Couscous Salad from Two Peas and Their Pod
  4. Summer Couscous Salad from Food n Service

What’s your favorite couscous dish?

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Lemongrass Basil Couscous Cakes

“Save it for a rainy day.”

I must have heard this phrase a hundred times growing up and when MarocBaba moved to the US it was one of the first idioms he learned in English. My dad said (and still says!) this regularly in reference to just about anything but specifically money. Even now, 10 years later whenever he hears this, MarocBaba laughs and says “remember when your dad said that?”

One of the most frightening things about working freelance is that money can dry up, so having a rainy day fund becomes a necessity more than a comfort. Our trip to Finland this month was wonderful but also cost some of reserves. When we got home we were met with several bills and unexpected costs – “when it rains it pours,” right?

I’m not a saver. I’m terrible about putting money aside, but I am not terrible about setting food aside. So while we were stretching our budget to make it through, I was utilizing my thriftiness in the kitchen and using some of the supplies I had saved. One of my creations were these Lemongrass Basil Couscous Cakes using Saffron Road’s simmer sauce.

Lemongrass Basil Text

We have couscous for lunch every Friday and I love eating leftovers. But sometimes there’s more leftovers than anyone wants to eat. Sometimes it goes to waste but I’ve been looking for ways I can re-purpose too. That’s how I came up with these. I was craving Eggs Benedict and it got me thinking about English muffins, which led me to think about other things that could go under a poached egg and…now you see how my mind works! There are lots of ways you could make these, but I was really happy with how these turned out.

vertical lemongrass basil couscous cakes

Lemongrass Basil Couscous Cakes


  • 2 cups leftover couscous (with meat/vegetables is fine!)
  • white of 1 egg
  • 2 tsp Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce
  • 1/4 cup + flour
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • Add couscous to a large bowl and use the back of a fork to mash together the couscous grains with the vegetables. I do this quite a bit to get in as many vegetables as possible without my kids recognizing them.
  • Mix in the white of 1 egg and 2 tsp Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil simmer sauce.
  • Slowly add flour. You may need to add a little bit more or a little bit less depending on how wet the couscous was to start with. The "dough" should not be firm, but not so thin that it falls apart if you form a ball in your hand.
  • Add vegetable oil to a skillet to be 1/4" deep and heat on medium until oil begins to gently bubble.
  • Form a small ball in your hand with the couscous and place into the oil.
  • Do not flip it until you see the edges begin to brown (about 5 minutes).
  • Cook on both sides until browned, then remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Disclaimer: I am a paid brand ambassador for Saffron Road Foods. All opinions, and recipes are my own. 

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Guest Post: Mango & Tomatoes’ Moroccan Chicken

Today’s guest post comes from Olga at Mango & Tomato.  I had the pleasure of meeting Olga at Eat Write Retreat in May.  I had so much fun getting to know her. I really love her great eye for photography and fabulous recipes.  I’m so happy she was willing to share this recipe!  Please make sure to stop by her website for more fantastic recipes and good eats in Washington DC.  You can also follow her on Twitter @mangotomato 
This recipe for Moroccan chicken came about partially because my mom made it in Seattle, and my sister and my dad liked it. There is nothing strange about my sister and mom liking Moroccan chicken. But the fact that my dad liked a dish with spices other than your typical salt/pepper/garlic/parsley, is really saying something!
Last weekend I decided to have a few of my friends over for dinner and to make chili and cornbread. One pot dishes are my favorites: little work is required, and yet you have quite a bit of flavor. What does this have to do with Moroccan chicken, you might be wondering. Well, my twin, Anna, told me that she thought making chili for a dinner get together was rather boring and uninspiring. She suggested I make Moroccan chicken. And since Anna is older than me (by 30 minutes!), I listened.
I used some of the ingredients from the recipe my mom recited over the phone {she found it in a Costco magazine} and some of the spices from a recipe I’ve made for Robyn, and a few random additions of my own.
Moroccan Chicken (this is enough for 6-10 people)

  • olive oil
  • 6 skinless & boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced (I used 1 red and 1 white)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 green peppers cut into 1″ chunks
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • parsley, chopped
  • 1/2  cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • cous cous, cooked

1. Heat a bit of oil in a large soup pot. In several batches cook the chicken for a few minutes. There is no need to brown it. You just want to make sure it’s not pink on the outside. Remove the chicken from the pot.

2. Add a bit more oil if necessary. Add onions and garlic to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add spices and cook for 2 more minutes. I had to add a bit of water at this point (you can also add more oil if you want).
4. Add carrots and peppers and cook for 5 more minutes.

5. Add crushed tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Bring everything to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pot. Also drop in the golden raisins. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the chicken, add a bit of water. I had to add about a cup. No big deal: you can also add more tomatoes if you have them, wine or even chicken broth. It’s not neuroscience: it’s cooking! Don’t be scared and have fun.

6. Bring everything to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes. Make sure your chicken is cooked all the way through.
Note: I toasted the slivered almonds in a little cast iron skillet. You can toast them in the oven on a cookie sheet or even in a microwave. 

Serve the Moroccan chicken over cous cous and top with almonds and parsley.

This dish turned out to be quite a party pleaser, which made me really happy.


  • Use thighs instead of chicken breasts.
  • Add dried apricots instead of (or with) golden raisins.
  • Feel free to add other vegetables such as zucchini or thinly sliced potatoes.
  • You can also serve this as a stew without cous cous or serve it over mashed potatoes or rice.
Original post can be found here.  Shared with permission from author.




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The Food that Soothes: Couscous for Breakfast

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I am a little nervous posting this recipe.  You see, until this weekend I never realized the level of reverence Moroccans have for couscous. It’s the “national dish” of Morocco and in a recent Twitter conversation I was shocked to discover Moroccans take offense to the term “Israeli couscous”.  To me it’s semantics but apparently not so – the crux of the argument was that there is no such thing as any couscous other than the Moroccan version and anyone that says otherwise is trying to steal a part of Moroccan culture.  I think this is a hard concept for an American whose culture is influenced by hundreds of different ethnic and cultural groups that call my country home.
So maybe you can see why I am a little nervous to share a breakfast couscous.  I’ll just disclaim this: This is not a traditional Moroccan couscous, nor something anyone in Morocco would probably make. Heck I didn’t even steam the couscous I used the instant version.  But guess what, it’s good.  It’s really good.  I’ve never liked breakfast preferring to eat a bowl of pasta before grabbing an egg or cereal.  This was perfect for me.


  • 1c of quick cooking couscous
  • 3-4 dates chopped
  • blueberries or other seasonal fruit
  • almonds chopped
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/4c milk (whatever you have)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Cook couscous according to package directions.  When cooked, add the cream and milk slowly leaving the burner on low heat.  Make sure to stir while adding the milk to separate the couscous grains.  Once all of the milk is combined, add in the brown sugar, dates, almonds and blueberries.  You can certainly add more or less of any of the items depending on your taste and wants.  This is best eaten hot.

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If there is anyone that knows Moroccan food it’s Paula Wolfert.  She truly is the queen, the Julia Child’s of Moroccan food in America.  I adore her cookbooks and she is truly such a very kind and wonderful person.  I hope that I have the honor of meeting her very soon.  This is her recipe for hand rolled couscous – a project that I think would be incredibly fun to give a shot.  Paula has assured me that in her new cookbook coming out this fall (inshallah) there will be an updated version of this recipe.  I have two of her cookbooks; [amazon_link id=”0060913967″ target=”_blank” ]Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”076457633X” target=”_blank” ]Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share[/amazon_link]and both are fabulous.  The new cookbook is all about Moroccan food and  having seen a few bits and pieces, trust me you are going to want it as soon as it’s published!  If you’re looking for a couscous steamer and don’t want to get a couscousierre, check out these beautiful steamers that double as strainers from Clay Coyote.  
From Paula;

I know! Just the thought of making your own couscous gives you a headache, but in fact it’s easier than making your own pasta or bread and delivers the same satisfaction: superior taste and a sense of wonder at the magic of it all.
I don’t know why it took me so long to start teaching homemade couscous. Once I did, putting on a show costumed in my printed blue and white pantaloons and sitting on the floor the way North African women do, I remembered how much fun it was and how astonishing the results. Now, spurred on by terrific feedback from my students, I demonstrate couscous making whenever I get the chance. I’ve taught the staff at chez Panisse and at the Napa Valley Culinary Institute of America. I like to think that there are chefs across the country who are ‘rolling their own’—couscous, that is.
When making couscous you’ll need two horsehair, wire, or plastic sieves of different calibers through which to shake the rolled beads of semolina. You’ll also need a couscous cooker or deep kettle with a colander that will sit snugly on top. And, of course, you’ll need some fresh coarse semolina and fine semolina flour purchased by mail-order or from a good Middle Eastern store. With these items in hand, you’ll be able to make enough fine-grain couscous to serve eight in literally 1 hour.
When making your own couscous, you must use coarse semolina, not couscous, as the “magnet” for fine semolina flour.
This recipe can be halved to serve 4.
Hand-Rolled Couscous
Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup coarse semolina
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water (approximately)
  • 1 cup fine semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cold water (approximately) for “raking” the couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup strained broth

1. Spread the coarse semolina on a large, preferably round tray.Sprinkle a few tablespoons of salted cold water over the coarse semolina and, at the same time rotate the palm and fingers of one hand in wide circles (in one direction only) to create tiny spheres.
2. After two or three rotations, begin to sprinkle the semolina.flour and about 1/4 cup cold water alternately on the spheres while continuing to rotate. As the spheres absorb the flour and water they will turn into tiny couscous “beads” more or less the same size. You may need another 1 to 2 tablespoons water.
3. Shake or lightly press the couscous “beads” through an everyday wire or plastic 12-mesh strainer in order to standardize their size. Place in a finer sieve to shake and remove excess flour. Makes about 4 cups uncooked fine couscous. (You may discard or use the flour, as North Africans do, to start the next batch.)
4. Bring plenty of water to a boil in the bottom of a deep kettle or couscous cooker. Pile the freshly rolled couscous into a lightly oiled colander or top container. Fit the top onto the bottom, checking for a tight seal. Partially cover and steam 15 minutes.
5. Dump couscous onto a tray and break up lumps with a large fork or whisk. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup salted water and rake the grains to keep them separate. Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Gradually add another 1/2 cup water while raking the couscous. When the couscous has absorbed all the water repeat the steaming for 15 minutes.
6. Dump couscous onto a tray, gradually work in another cup cold water, and rake the grains to keep them separate. Allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff up the couscous and loosely cover with a damp towel. Up to this point the couscous can be prepared a few hours in advance.
7. Thirty minutes before serving, bring water back to a boil. Return the couscous to the colander or top container and steam, uncovered, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Couscous lightens in color when fully cooked.
8. Dump couscous onto a wide shallow serving dish and toss with oil or butter and moisten with 1 cup strained broth. Let stand,covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently fluff the couscous, pile ina mound, and decorate with meat or fish and vegetables.
© Paula Wolfert, 1998, 2005
To connect with Paula find her online;

Her WebsiteOn Twitter; On Facebook


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Last week in my grocery shopping I came across the bin of fall vegetables.  This might not be a phenomenon where you are but it is definetely common here in the Midwest.  (I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture).  Imagine a pallet with solid sides, about 4 feet high –  LOADED with squash and gourds of every shape, color, and size.  Yes, this means fall is here.  Imagine my surprise when on the center aisles of the produce aisle was a cute display of smaller size squash.  Everything is better when it’s miniature!  This is particularly good for me because I’m the only one that really likes squash…wait loves squash.  I don’t understand why no one else in my family does but I could eat it everyday!  I picked up a small acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin and another squash (I don’t know what it is but it tasted good).  Then I thought..what am I going to do with all these squash?!?  Couscous!  Perfect.  I picked up the other veggies and headed home.  This is basic, and you can swap in and out any squash or vegetable that you like.  You won’t be disapointed!
My Ingredients:
1/2 butternut squash
1/2 acorn squash
1/2 small pumpkin
1/2 mystery squash
1 large sweet potato
3 carrots peeled, cut in half lengthwise and widthwise
1 zucchini
For spices and other vegetable ideas see master couscous recipe.
Same as with the master recipe – just make sure that you add the zucchini and any other soft vegetables later on in cooking. 
Then what with the other half squashes??  You could make some soup or you could roast them! 
Cube up the remaining squash, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper – throw in a 350F oven and roast about 45 minutes until tender.  So tasty you’ll eat them like candy! 
Do you have a favorite squash recipe?  What other vegetables or foods make you think fall?

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Couscous is one of the national dishes of Morocco however, it’s a dish that I rarely make.  This is not because I don’t love it (because I do!)  It does take some time to make the couscous and it also takes a little practice to get the flavors right.  I have been told that you can use the instant couscous that is much like minute rice, BUT I really don’t think it tastes the same.  If it’s your first time making couscous this might not be the best time to have 20 guests over for a dinner party and serve this, as even with a good recipe (like the one I’m going to share!) the first attempt is a bit of trial and error especially when it comes to the steaming process. 

You will need a couscousiere (French for a couscous cooking pot).  You may be able to get away with a steamer insert if the holes are small.  Although I will list the vegetables that I used, the good part about this dish is really any vegetable or combination of vegetables will work.  It’s a great dish to clear out the vegetable drawers. 

Chicken Couscous


Couscous Preparation

2c dry couscous

Topping for couscous

3 tsp olive oil                                                                                                          2-3 chicken breasts or 1 lb any other cut of chicken
2 potatoes peeled and quartered
1/2 lb green peas shelled
1/2 lb carrots peeled and halved
3 zucchini’s peeled and halved
1 onion peeled and cut into 1/8ths
(some other vegetables that could be used; sweet potatoes, fresh fava beans, chickpeas, cabbage, okra, eggplant, parsnips, rutabega, peppers)
bouquet garni of 2/3 italian parsley to 1/3 cilantro
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper (1 1/2 tsp black pepper)
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp garlic
5 threads of saffron
1/2 tsp tumeric


To prepare couscous;
In a large bowl pour in couscous and cover with water, rolling couscous with your hand to seperate the grains.  Add some salt to the water (less than 1/2 teaspoon, just to season the water).  Allow to soak while preparing the topping for the bottom pan.  couscous2


To prepare topping;
Peel and cut all vegetables.  Separate vegetables by cooking time.  (i.e potatoes will take longer to cook than green peas).  In the bottom of the couscousiere add the chicken and the vegetables that will take the longest to cook, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Add 4-5 cups of water, enough to cover the vegetables.  Add all of the spices and the bouquet garni.  Turn the heat on medium high.  Place the top of the couscousiere on the top of the pot and cover.  Allow to cook for 20-25 minutes.

After 20 minutes check the couscous, all excess water should be cooked off and the grains should be starting to feel soft.  Remove the top of the pot and pour into a large bowl.  In a separate bowl mix water and salt to make a salt water spritz.  Using your hand spritz the couscous with the saltwater.  *the couscous will be very hot but the grains need to be separated*  Use your hand and carefully roll the couscous to separate the grains as much as possible.  You can continue to spritz the couscous during this process.  Once complete place back in the top of the couscousiere and back onto the heat, cover and allow 20 more minutes of steaming. 

Once the couscous is removed after the second steaming add the quicker cooking vegetables to the bottom of the couscousiere (peas, zucchini, etc).  Check the water and add more if levels are low.  There should be sauce left at the end.  Spritz the couscous again after the second steaming, this time add smen while separating the grains.  (If you do not have smen you could use olive oil or regular butter or you do not have to add anything).  Steam the couscous for the final 20 minutes. 

In a large serving dish, pour out the couscous and make a well in the middle of the couscous.  Using a slotted spoon remove the meat from the couscousiere and place into the well of couscous.  Next remove the vegetables and arrange around the couscous.  Remove and throw out the bouquet garni.  Once all of the vegetables have been removed, pour half of the remaining sauce on the meat and couscous and the other half in a dish for serving with the meal. 

Couscous is traditionally eaten family style using the hands or eaten with spoons.  However it can be served onto individual plates.  The extra sauce is served on the side with guests taking additional sauce as desired. 

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