You can use couscous the same way you would use rice or pasta, as a starch on which to serve another dish, especially something savory. It also makes a great hot or cold side dish or salad, topped 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 quite a different product. Sometimes called pearl couscous, Israeli couscous is an extruded batter, similar to many familiar Italian shapes. It consists of small spheres of grilled semolina which take a little longer to cook, rather 8 to 10 minutes. The texture is more bouncy and less grainy. It is also quite versatile.
A Guide to Couscous: The History, Different Types, and How to Cook With It
To show you the range of both types, here’s a roundup of recipes from our archive.
Primavera Couscous, at the top. This fresh and bright dish with asparagus, peas, scallions, carrots and herbs tips the scales in favor of more vegetables than couscous.
Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous With Goat Cheese. Here’s a great example of what my colleague Daniela Galarza calls “couscous with stuff on top.” In this case, it’s a sweet and tangy version of the Sicilian eggplant caponata prepared on a baking sheet. A dollop of goat cheese melts deliciously into the hot dish for creamy luxury.
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Couscous Salad with Smoked Trout and Pepperoncini. As my colleague Ann Maloney says of this main course, “grilled couscous is tossed in a wonderfully tangy and just a wee bit spicy mixture of extra virgin olive oil, pepperoncini brine and minced garlic. “. Next are cherry tomatoes, sliced pepperoncini, chopped parsley, and your favorite smoked fish.
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Lemon Couscous, Herbs + Feta. Here’s a quick, affordable, and satisfying side dish that can be modified to fit a variety of ingredients or accompany a wide range of dishes.
Couscous of roasted prawns and peas. You only need 25 minutes to prepare this meal that combines pan-toasted pearl couscous with baked shrimp with a light coating of apricot jam. For a similar combination, see Lemon prawns with white beans and couscous.
Israeli Couscous Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs. Chickpeas push this salad into main course territory, as do walnuts and sunflower sprouts. You can redeem your choice of fresh fruit depending on the season.
Couscous salad with summer fruits and arugula. Fresh fruit also shines in this salad which can be a main dish or a side dish. It is bursting with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.
Moroccan couscous with chicken. Break out the Dutch oven for this quick one-pot meal that’s packed with turmeric.
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