Couscous – it’s not just fun to say! It’s a delicious alternative to many of the other starches that often grace our plates. A wonderful break from long-grain rice and potatoes, couscous is the perfect pantry staple – especially when you learn how good it is for you!
Couscous is among the healthiest grain-based products. It has a glycemic load per gram 25 percent below that of pasta. And, it has a superior vitamin profile. Couscous contains twice as much riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate among its redeeming qualities.
This little grain was first referenced in an anonymous 13th century Moroccan/Andalusian cookbook with a recipe for couscous that was “known all over the world.” And, certainly, it is. Couscous shows up in early references from Granada to Syria to Italy. Yet, couscous’ roots are in North Africa. Today, couscous is considered a staple food throughout West Africa, France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Malta, the Middle East and more.
Couscous is often served with meat or a vegetable stew spooned over the top. It’s wonderful for soaking up spiced juices from marinades and sauces, too, as it does in my recipe for Ginger-Orange Chicken with Spicy Couscous. You’ll find that the grain doesn’t have much flavor on its own and needs to be prepared with flavored stocks, herbs, spices or even additions such as dried fruits or nuts.
Preparation is easy. Most packaged couscous is considered the instant variety and will cook quickly. However, authentic couscous (roughly-ground hard durum wheat) will require significantly more time to cook. Be sure you know which couscous you’ve purchased so you can plan cooking times accordingly.