How to cook couscous

May 21, 2024
by HelloFresh Tips & tricks

    A perfect cupboard staple, couscous is the go-to grain when you’re looking for a light meal or side dish. Its fluffy texture and neutral taste make it a blank canvas to infuse your own flavour, just like pasta or rice. 

    Pairing well with chicken, lamb, feta and rich spices, there are a whole host of couscous recipes to try, from North African dishes to French salads.

    What is couscous?

    Couscous is durum wheat semolina that’s been steamed and rolled into tiny balls. The fine texture of couscous is often mistaken for a wholegrain, however because it’s formed from a dough, it is actually a type of pasta! 

    There are three distinct varieties of couscous, varying by size and origins: the smallest Moroccan couscous, the mid-sized Israeli (pearl) couscous, and the larger Lebanese couscous. All types of couscous are typically served in the same way, either as a bed for stews and protein, or tossed in salads. 

    How to cook couscous

    Couscous is one of the easiest ingredients to cook. Moroccan couscous, the finest and the most common, just requires rehydrating by absorbing boiled water, while larger couscous is cooked by boiling over a hob, just like pasta. 

    Cooking Moroccan couscous 

    You will need equal parts couscous and boiling water (or you can use liquid stock).

    1. Add the couscous to a heatproof bowl.
    2. Pour the boiling water or stock over the couscous. 
    3. Cover the bowl and leave for 5-10 minutes until the water is absorbed. 
    4. Use a fork to fluff the hydrated couscous, separating the grains. 

    You have now prepared a light, fluffy couscous that can be used as a base for any meal. It’s time to infuse some flavour, and there are numerous ways to achieve this.

    How to flavour couscous 

    Depending on the dish you’re making, there are many ways to add seasonings and flavour to cooked couscous.

    1. Season with salt and pepper, then mix in with butter or oil — This will preserve the subtle flavour while enhancing the creaminess of your couscous.
    2. Mix in freshly chopped herbs like coriander, mint, or parsley — Herbs and couscous complement each other perfectly, adding plenty of fresh flavour.
    3. Add lemon zest and a dash of lemon juice. — Couscous soaks up the lemon, infusing your dish with a delightful zing.
    4. Stir through a spicy paste  — Mixing in a flavourful spice paste like zhoug, harissa, or chimichurri can enhance the couscous with a kick of spice, without causing it to dry out.
    5. Begin by sautéing garlic and onions — After frying some garlic and onions, add your couscous and stock to the same pan for extra flavour. 

    Cooking larger couscous 

    Larger varieties of couscous are prepared similarly to pasta, by boiling on a hob. For these types of couscous, the ideal ratio is two parts water to one part couscous. This doesn’t need to be precise since you’ll be draining the couscous regardless.

    1. Add the couscous to a saucepan of boiling water.
    2. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the grains have softened.
    3. Drain the couscous in a sieve and allow to cool.
    4. Once cooled, fluff with a fork to separate. 

    All cooking appliances vary. These are guidelines only. Ensure the food is piping hot before serving. Do not reheat.

    Couscous Recipes

    Whether its enjoyed as a side to meat or tossed in salad, there are many ways to serve couscous. Here are some of HelloFresh’s most popular couscous recipes, from Mediterranean to the Middle East. 

    Couscous Stuffed Peppers 

    Couscous makes an ideal filling for stuffed peppers, especially when combined with feta or halloumi cheese and finely diced roasted vegetables. For a non-vegetarian alternative, consider combining it with minced beef or turkey. Vegans can replace the mince and cheese with plant-based options.

    Stuffed Peppers with Herb Couscous: One of the simplest and easiest ways to make couscous stuffed peppers, this is a tasty dish that’s always a success. 

    Spiced Beef Stuffed Peppers: This low calorie recipe includes a balanced mix of essential food groups. Simply swap out the bulgar wheat for couscous.

    Herby Pork Stuffed Pepper: A twist on the classic stuffed pepper, these flavourful pork-filled peppers are served on a bed of couscous infused with spicy harissa.

    Couscous Salads

    Couscous is an ideal ingredient for salads, enhancing the meal with added texture and making it more satisfying. Couscous can be paired with any salad, hot or cold. For an extra tasty dish, try it with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, chicken, and Greek cheese.

    Halloumi and Chermoula-Spiced Couscous Salad: Chermoula and lemon add a fresh kick to this couscous salad, pairing perfectly with the fried halloumi.

    Dukkah Cauliflower and Pearl Couscous Salad: Indulge in this hearty salad that honours roasted veggies with pearl couscous and fragrant mint for a satisfying meal.

    Israeli Couscous Bowl: This wholesome salad is simple to make and packed with vegetables, complete with crunchy chickpeas that add a delicious texture to the couscous.

    Couscous is a versatile ingredient that can be quickly prepared and added to a wide array of dishes. It’s no surprise that this grain-like ingredient is a staple in every pantry. To find more delicious recipes to cook, browse the HelloFresh recipe hub.

    All food products vary. The instructions printed on the food packaging always supersedes those printed in this article and must always be followed.
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