Time to add a little pizzazz to your grain game! This quick and easy Moroccan Couscous recipe is a refreshing change of pace from the standard side.
- This classic Moroccan-style couscous recipe cooks in 15 minutes (this Roasted Vegetable Salad is another quick couscous recipe).
- A few simple touches, like subtle spices, golden raisins, and pine nuts, make it taste special enough to serve at a holiday meal.
One of my most vivid post-college memories is of a friend cooking a Moroccan-themed dinner for a big group.
She piled spiced couscous high on a large platter, topped with the spiced Moroccan Meatballs and Oven Roasted Vegetables, and we ate it on the floor, scooping our servings from the communal plate (those were the days!).
That meal made quite the impression. I’ve been smitten with Moroccan-style food and flavors ever since.
5 Star Review
“Just made this tonight. The meal was as good as anything found in a restaurant.”— Peg —
What is Couscous?
Couscous is a staple dish in many North African countries including Morocco, a country I dream of visiting one day.
- While it resembles a tiny grain of rice or quinoa, couscous is pasta.
- It’s made from semolina (semolina is a flour made from durum wheat and is used in most traditional kinds of pasta) and water.
Because it is so small, couscous recipes cook in a matter of minutes, making it a fabulous choice for a last-minute side.
Since it cooks on the stovetop, it keeps your oven free for other endeavors.
How to Make a Moroccan Couscous Recipe
Fortunately, we don’t need to visit Morocco to enjoy a serving of couscous (or Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken).
This couscous recipe takes inspiration from Moroccan cuisine and ingredients but is mild enough to serve with a wide variety of mains.
- Couscous. Quick-cooking and tasty, I like to purchase whole wheat couscous. Like other whole-grain options, it’s higher in protein and fiber than its white counterparts. (Try this Avocado Couscous Grapefruit Salad next.)
- Shallot. Starting the recipe by sautéing a shallot gives the entire dish a more robust, complete flavor.
- Golden Raisins. A popular ingredient in Moroccan cooking, golden raisins (also in this Moroccan Chickpea Salad) give the couscous recipe bits of sweetness and make it more texturally interesting.
- Pine Nuts. Another classic ingredient in Moroccan cuisine, pine nuts add pops of nutty intensity and crunch. (I also love pine nuts in this Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf.)
- Lemon and Parsley. These two traditional Moroccan ingredients give this easy couscous recipe freshness, color, and life.
- Cumin. Moroccan cuisine is especially renowned for its spices. This recipe keeps the spices fairly mild so that the couscous pairs well with a variety of dishes. A touch of cumin is all you need.
- Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over low heat.
Watch them carefully, as they burn easily.
- Sauté the shallots, add the spices, and pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat.
- Add the couscous, cover, and let it steam. Fluff the couscous with a fork and finish by stirring in the mix-ins. ENJOY!
- To Store. Place leftover couscous in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Let the couscous cool completely, then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 2 days ahead of time, prepare this couscous recipe as directed, cover, and refrigerate it. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheets. These sizes are ideal for spreading out and toasting the nuts.
- Versatile Saucepan. This one is a very useful size for cooking grains and with proper care can last a lifetime.
- Citrus Juicer. The BEST way to juice any citrus fruit. You’ll be amazed how much juice it can squeeze from every lemon.
For a recipe that will surprise and delight, all with very little effort on your part, this Moroccan couscous recipe does not disappoint.
If you try it, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Frequently Asked Questions
Typically, pearl couscous needs to simmer and be cooked more like regular pasta noodles, (rather than removing it from the heat and leaving covered to steam). For best results, consult the package direction of your pearl couscous and adapt the cooking time and method accordingly. For more guidance, see this Israeli Couscous Salad recipe.
Sure! While I have not tried this personally, I imagine it would be a delicious adaptation. Note the cooking time and method may need to be adjusted based on the cooking directions for your quinoa. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear about your results in the comments.
As far as calories go, couscous and most varieties of brown rice are fairly comparable. Both contain similar amounts of protein and fiber too. However, if you’re looking for a healthy change of pace from your usual side of brown rice, couscous is a great alternative to try (as is Farro Risotto).
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or swap pistachios or slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter use coconut oil or vegan butter to make vegan
- 1 small shallot chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 cup whole wheat couscous
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil use the good stuff here!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pine nuts in a single layer on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Keep an eye on them and DO NOT WALK AWAY during the last few minutes to make sure those precious pine nuts do not burn. Immediately transfer them to a bowl to stop their cooking and to make sure the hot pan doesn't burn them once they are out of the oven.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin and cook for 30 seconds.
- Pour in the broth. Increase the heat to high and bring it to a boil. As soon as the liquid begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the couscous, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- With a fork, fluff up the couscous. Add the raisins, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts to the pot, then stir the ingredients together to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: Place leftover couscous in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Let the couscous cool completely, then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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