When it comes to quick and easy food ideas, you can't beat Couscous recipes. Just pour boiling water over the couscous, soak for 5 minutes and you're done, as easy as that. 'Couscous' is the staple product of North Africa and the national dish of the countries Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. It's such a versatile and healthy option that you can easily add to your daily meal plans. It can be a lovely side to any spicy gravy, great lunchbox addition and even perfect for that potluck picnic in the park. Anyone can make couscous, even the most novice of a bachelor, the only skill required is to boil water, which is easily done even in your office pantry!
Way back in 2006, I stopped at the supermarket salad-bar for my office lunch, and I quickly spotted this salad, since it looked different from the regular pasta, potato and kidney bean staple that you always end up stuffing yourself with. I decided to give it a go and naturally I loved it. My devious plan a week later (thanks to my cravings) was to re-create the same salad and bingo, here's the result. Enjoy it as is, or as a replacement to rice with any rich gravy like Punjabi Rajma (for vegans) or Roghan Ghosht (paleo).
2 cups cooked couscous
1/2 cup finely diced Bell pepper (I used yellow)
1/2 cup finely diced Spanish onion (optional)
1 cucumber peeled and diced fine
1/4 cup (or a handful) Raisins
10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
A handful chopped mint or Parsley
A handful finely chopped Dill
1/4 cup Pomegranate seeds for garnish
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsps freshly squeezed Lemon juice
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp Paprika (optional)
In a large bowl, mix the Couscous with all the other ingredients. Separately whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, pour and toss it up gently just before serving. Top it with the pomegranate seeds and a few sprigs of mint.
You can add more options to this salad like spring onions, pine nuts, tomatoes and shredded carrots. If you plan to have it as a side, keep the veggies to a minimum as above and double the quantity of couscous.
How to cook Couscous
1 cup dry instant couscous
1 cup boiling hot water
1 pinch salt (optional)
Place the couscous in a deep dish, pour over the boiling water and add salt (the salt is optional, I prefer to avoid it). Close this with a tightly fitted lid so no steam can escape. Wait 5 minutes and gently open the lid (don't burn your face by peering in close, ever!). The couscous will be done by now, just fluff it up with a fork and serve it hot. For a more flavorful alternative, you can use 1 cup of boiling hot stock.
The couscous that we get at the supermarket is instant couscous. This is couscous that has already been pre-cooked and dried before packaging. The proportions for cooking couscous are usually 1:1. Less water makes the couscous dry and more water makes slightly sticky couscous, but soft. One cup of dried couscous makes about 3-four cups of cooked couscous.
Make Ahead Tip: Prep your veggies a day before and store them in a ziplock bag, so its a quick serve from the kitchen to your dining table.