All About Couscous

The Middle Eastern Pasta

Couscous Chicken Salad
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Couscous is a tiny pasta that is delicious, nutritious, and incredibly easy to prepare. Most couscous that you buy in the grocery store is the tiny grained Moroccan couscous that has been pre-steamed, so all you have to do is mix it with boiling water plus a little butter or olive oil and let stand for a few minutes, fluff the grains with a fork, and serve.

You can find traditional couscous in the store as well; that product usually must be soaked and then slowly steamed to cook to perfection.

I myself do not use that kind, because to me couscous means super quick and super simple. There are other varieties of couscous available too: Israeli couscous is smaller than pea size and is cooked like pasta. And Lebanese couscous (also called maghrabiyeh) is the size of a pea and is cooked by soaking in hot water for 30-45 minutes. And couscous with other ingredients like legumes and beans is a supermarket staple.

Recently, a reader named Carol wrote me with some questions about grains and couscous. Technically, couscous is a pasta, not a grain, made of ground semolina flour. It is fairly flavorless on its own, so it is a perfect foil for any type of ethnic cuisine. Your grocery store also offers many flavored instant couscous varieties; try them until you find one you really like. And Carol also gave me this great tip: keep a bay leaf inside your containers of grains and pastas to keep pantry pests at bay.

(Ouch, what a pun!)

And couscous is also perfect for the coming summer months. It does require some boiling water (do that in the microwave oven!), but preparing it is much easier than preparing pasta or any grain; plus you can't beat the five minute preparation time.

Enjoy these couscous recipes this week.

Couscous Recipes

  • Tex Mex Couscous Salad
    The flavors of Tex Mex are combined with Moroccan couscous in a fusion recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious.
  • Couscous and Chickpeas Pilaf
    This super simple recipe makes the perfect side dish to serve with any soup or stew, or as the base for a saucy meat.
  • Couscous Vegetable Salad
    Yogurt, olive oil, and curry powder turn plain couscous into a wonderfully flavored salad. Add some cooked shrimp or chicken to turn it into a great summer main dish.
  • Deli Couscous Salad
    Just three ingredients and this salad is ready to go. It's perfect for a picnic, or as a side dish for grilled meats, especially grilled turkey tenderoin.
  • French Couscous
    Cubed brie cheese melts into warm couscous making this dish a creamy delight. Serve it with any grilled meat for a fabulous side dish.
  • Curried Couscous
    Another curry recipe! Currants, raisins, and almonds add great flavor and texture to this elegant side dish.
  • Lemon Mint Couscous
    Lemon and mint are a wonderful fresh combination, and the perfect flavors to perk up couscous.
  • Fresh Vegetable Couscous Salad
    Zucchini and summer squash, with their tender texture and delicate flavors, are perfect additions to this fresh summer salad.
  • Salmon with Lemon Couscous
    Grilled salmon fillets placed on top of lemon and onion flavored couscous makes one of my favorite meals.
  • Couscous Chicken Salad
    Dried apricots, mandarin oranges, and turmeric turn couscous into an exotic treat. I make this salad often during the summer months.
  • Tuna Raisin Salad
    Mustard, garlic, and red wine vinegar add snap to plain couscous in this unusual and elegant main dish salad recipe. You could certainly substitute any cooked meat for the tuna if you'd like.
  • Skillet Paella
    Tender shrimp and slightly crisp little peas are the perfect foils for couscous in this easy skillet recipe. Yum.
  • Greek Crockpot Stew
    There's just something about the combination of garbanzo beans and couscous that is so meaty and satisfying. This vegetarian main dish crockpot recipe is delicious and super easy.