Looking for a fresh, healthy and fabulous side dish? Well, you’ve come to the right place! This Vegetable Couscous is full of vibrant flavors and textures. Earthy couscous is toasted to bring out its nutty flavor, then tossed together with fresh spinach, peas, mushrooms, onions, jicama and mozzarella. It’s all topped off with a bright Dill Vinaigrette. Yum!
What is couscous?
I have always loved couscous, ever since I first discovered not only how delicious it is, but also how quick, easy and foolproof it is to prepare. While it may look like a grain, couscous is basically a pasta. It’s made with semolina flour from durum wheat – the main ingredient in traditional pastas. There are three main types of couscous, whose primary difference is size – Moroccan, which is the smallest, then Israeli (or pearl) and finally the largest is Lebanese. The kind called for in this easy couscous recipe is Moroccan.
Tip: If a recipe simply calls for “couscous” without a country identified, use Moroccan (the smallest in size).
How to cook couscous
To cook, all you have to do is bring water or broth (using broth layers in more flavor) to a boil, stir in couscous, cover and let sit off heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, take off the lid, fluff with a fork, season or mix in other ingredients and serve. For added flavor, in this recipe you toast the couscous lightly before adding the boiling liquid. By adding in this simple step, you amp up the nutty flavor of the couscous.
What’s in Vegetable Couscous?
This Vegetable Couscous recipe comes from good friend Anne Draper, who got it from an out of print cookbook called Delitefully Healthmark which focused on quick, easy, healthy recipes – and this one is all three. Couscous is lightly toasted, then cooked and combined together with several fresh vegetables – including spinach, green peas, green onion and mushrooms. Toasted pine nuts and fresh Jicama are added for crunch and mozzarella cheese is mixed in for a bit of tang.
Of course, you can modify the ingredients to your liking. Don’t have spinach? No problem – just leave it out. Prefer couscous with feta rather than mozzarella? Go ahead! Use your imagination – lots of different vegetables, cheeses and nuts will work.
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Other summer side dishes to try
- Southern Corn Pudding
- Dorothy’s Potato Salad
- Coleslaw with Lemon Mayonnaise Dressing
- Quick and Easy Sautéed Asparagus
- Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
- Grilled Corn, Zucchini and Tomato Salad
- Corn and Prosciutto Salad
- Roasted Zucchini Custard
- Tomato Peach Salad with Lime Dressing
- Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad
- Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt-Herb Dressing
Looking for a fresh, healthy and fabulous side dish? Well, you’ve come to the right place! This Vegetable Couscous is full of vibrant flavors and textures. Nutty couscous is tossed together with fresh spinach, green peas, mushrooms, onions, jicama and mozzarella – then served with a bright Dill Vinaigrette. Yum!
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup couscous
- 1 1/8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup sliced fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, large slices cut in half
- 1/3 cup fresh or frozen green peas, thawed and drained
- 1/4 cup chopped jicama
- 2 1/2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 large green onions, chopped (white, light green and some of the dark green portion)
- 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, chopped
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- In a jar with a tight fitting lid, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, lemon zest, cumin, garlic and dill. Season to taste with salt.
- Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend.
- Place couscous in a large skillet and toast over medium heat until lightly browned, around 5 minutes. Stir constantly after around 2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove lid and fluff couscous with a fork.
- Place couscous in a large mixing bowl with spinach, mushrooms, peas, jicama, pine nuts, onions and cheese. Toss to combine.
- Add vinaigrette; toss until all ingredients are well coated.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make ahead: Vinaigrette and couscous mixture, omitting pine nuts, can be made earlier in the day and stored separately, covered, and in the refrigerator. Toss mixture, nuts and vinaigrette just before serving. I also like to brush the mushroom slices with a bit of lemon juice, to keep them from browning.
Keywords: couscous, healthy side dishes, easy salads