30 December 2021
Couscous is a food that comes to us primarily from North Africa. While it looks like a grain, it is actually a type of pasta composed of semolina flour (from durum wheat) and water. Today we can shop for three varieties: Moroccan (the smallest), Israeli or pearl (peppercorn sized), and Lebanese (the largest. In North America it is pre-cooked and dried so that it is a quick addition to a meal.
Its flavor is generally rather neutral but it will absorb the spices around it. Cooking it in broth, stock, or milk will increase its taste. Whole-grain couscous is a good source of fiber, can help reduce cholesterol levels. It is an easy swap for refined white pasta or white rice.
It can easily be confused with quinoa. Couscous is a pasta while quinoa is a seed; both are treated like a grain. Quinoa is somewhat more healthy than couscous since the quinoa is higher in protein levels and fiber. Both are high in carbs but contain a protein component.
You can buy it in a box with some spices included or in bulk where you just scoop out the amount you need. Store it in a cool, dry place in an air tight container. Otherwise it can go rancid. It lasts up to a year in the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked it can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
For vegan or vegetarian versions use vegetable stock and add dried fruit and nuts. For breakfast, cook it milk and add dates, honey, cinnamon, raisins, etc.
The recipe below is a one-pot wonder. You can reduce the cook time by using leftover chicken or a rotisserie. It would also be good with pulled pork. Vary the vegetables with what is in season, what your family likes, or what happens to be living in your freezer.
Serve it with a fresh spinach salad or side of mixed fruit.
Olive oil to coat the pan
12 to 16 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken cut into strips
2 teaspoons of Cajun or blackened seasoning
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped onion
14 ounces of chicken broth
2 cups of vegetables
1 cup uncooked couscous
Coat the uncooked chicken in seasoning and cook in olive oil in the skillet until no longer pink in the center. Add broth and vegetables. Bring it to a boil. Stir in couscous. Don’t boil the couscous, just let it absorb the liquid and combine with the flavors. Cover and let stand for about five minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Serve and enjoy.