How to Cook Couscous

By Ted Rollins , last updated January 4, 2012

Couscous is a semolina grain that's amazingly popular across the Middle East and increasingly popular in the United States. It's typically made with stewed dishes and is a major part of Algerian, Israeli and Moroccan cuisines. While the grain may seem intimidating to those who've never used it before, it's actually quite simple to prepare if you know what you're doing. In the following, you'll find out about how to prepare couscous on its own, and then a few ways you might want to use it in a dish.

Basic Couscous Preparation

Yields Four Servings


1 cup couscous

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. olive oil

Put your water in a pot and bring it to boil. Prepare a pan with your olive oil and heat on medium-low for five minutes. Toss in your couscous and salt and begin stirring immediately, which you'll continue doing for five minutes or until the couscous turns golden brown. If you stop stirring for too long, the couscous will go brown and be inedible.

Once the couscous is golden brown, pour your boiling water over it and then cover with a lid. You’ll want one that covers it completely and won't let any moisture out. Take the couscous off the heat and let it sit for ten minutes or until the water absorbs and evaporates. Run a fork through the final product to fluff it up and serve right away.

To make the dish a bit healthier, consider using whole wheat couscous, which you can prepare in precisely the same way, and which will provide much more nutritional value. If you want to make the couscous a bit fancier without complicating it too much, you can add toasted pine nuts or raisins into the mix.

Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs

This take on couscous comes from Israel and makes for one of the healthiest side dishes you can find. It's great on its own, but will also pair well with chicken or a mild fish. You can easily add or remove any ingredients you don't like without having too much impact on the final product.

Yields 4-6 Servings

Couscous Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups Israeli couscous

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 green apple, diced

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted almonds, slivered

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Take a saucepan and heat up your olive oil on medium-high. Toss in the couscous and begin stirring right away until lightly browned, which should take about 3-5 minutes. Cover in your chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until all of the liquid in the pot disappears. Put the couscous in a bowl and add in your parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, dried cranberries and almonds, mixing thoroughly.

Separately, prepare your vinaigrette. Combine your first four ingredients, whisking in the olive oil to make a smooth mixture. Pour over the couscous and mix evenly. Serve immediately.

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