Learn the ins and outs of how to cook couscous. It is easy to adapt to accompany any sort of entree. It is a fantastic pantry staple since it takes next to no time to cook and is so versatile.
What is Couscous?
While it looks like a grain, it is actually considered a pasta since it is made from semolina (the hard surface of wheat) and steam to make small balls. The small pellets are sometimes labeled golden couscous are can be found in the bulk sections of the grocery store or in the rice and grains aisle. Most grocery stores also carry Israeli Couscous (sometimes called pearl couscous) which is a larger form of couscous and can be used when more distinct grains are desired like in salads. Bi-colored couscous and whole wheat couscous are also available. Like other kinds of pasta, you can swap varieties according to your preferences.
Couscous is common in Moroccan, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.
How to Cook Couscous
The ratios for cooking couscous are generally 1:1 (boiling liquid to couscous), but different brands can call for up 1.5:1. Sometimes a drier texture is desired and so less water should be used. One cup dried couscous makes about three cups cooked couscous. A serving of cooked couscous is about 3/4 cup (depending on if it is a side dish for salad).
Couscous can be toasted before cooking to form a pilaf type depth of flavor to the dish. Add some type of oil or butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and stir until the couscous begins to smell toasty. Then proceed with the recipe as normal.
Since you can add all sorts of spices to the couscous before adding the hot liquid, it really is a blank canvass for whatever you can dream up.
Tips for Cooking Couscous
- Bring whatever liquid you are using to a boil (remember water brings no flavor to the party and you will want to at least heavily salt the water if not use stock as the liquid. Plus a little pat of butter or drizzle of oil.
- Remove pan from the heat and stir in the couscous and any spices.
- Cover the pan and let it sit off the heat for 12-15 minutes.
- Remove the lid and check that the couscous is not crunchy. (If it is let it rest a little longer.) Use a fork to gently fluff the cooked couscous.
- Add any fresh ingredients to the couscous and serve warm or in case of a salad room temperature.
My favorite basic couscous recipe and where I recommend you begin your adventure is below.Print
An easy and quick sidedish that can support any entree. Learn how to make, customize and enjoy couscous.
- 2 cups regular couscous
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2–1/2 cups chicken broth (since I like it a little stickier)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Heat chicken broth, butter, salt in a medium saucepan until boiling.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in the couscous and lemon juice.
- Place lid on pan and let rest for 15 minutes for the couscous grains to absorb all the liquid and become al dente in texture.
- When the liquid is absorbed and the texture is not crunchy, stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper as desired.
- Serve warm.
Saute some minced onion or garlic and toast the couscous before adding the liquid for extra flavor!
Add a bay leaf cooking liquid for a herbal and slightly floral hint of flavor.
Stir in dried fruits to the couscous before you close the lid for a sweet note.
roasted vegetables and tasty stews to chops and salmon steaks.
Try adding other fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted vegetables, pistachios or sliced almonds to the couscous when you fluff the dish to customize it anyway you like it.
- Serving Size: 3/4 cup