Couscous’ neutral flavor lends itself to a wide variety of flavorings.
Once cooked (hydrated with hot water), those petite spheres of semolina are traditionally topped with a stew. At my house, couscous is most often served as a side dish or a vegetarian entrée.
This Moroccan-themed couscous is augmented with roasted vegetables. It can be served hot or for a picnic, it is delicious at room temperature.
If you like, augment it with pieces of roast chicken or lamb, or slices of sautéed kielbasa sausage.
I like to build flavors by garnishing with sections or slices of PIXIE tangerines. Pixie tangerines are a favorite at this time of year, with just-right sweetness and juiciness.
Yield: 6 to 8 as a side dish
2 cups (3/4-inch chunks) butternut squash
1 yellow onion, quartered lengthwise, cut into thick crosswise slices
2 cups (3/4-inch chunks) carrots
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt, such as kosher, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 1/2 cups couscous, whole wheat preferred
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Optional: lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil
Garnish: 2 PIXIE tangerines, peeled, sliced or torn into sections
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss squash, onion and carrots with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 30 to 35 minutes, turning half way through roasting. If vegetables are tender but aren’t caramelized, adjust oven rack to about 6-inches below broiler element; broil until nicely caramelized in one-minute increments, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning.
2. Meanwhile, bring broth, butter, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and saffron to boil in medium saucepan. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to rest about 10 minutes. Bring back to boil. Remove from heat and add couscous. Cover and allow to rest 10 minutes.
3. Add roasted vegetables, red onion and parsley to couscous; toss. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a drizzle of lemon olive oil if you like. Garnish with slices or sections of Pixie tangerines.