Couscous with Vegetables, Olives, & Raisins

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Aug 4, 2010 at 3:03pm

Behold the world’s most perfect side dish.  I’m not talking about the photo, which is meh (sorry, I was rushing this out to our National Night Out block party), but the dish itself, which is delicious and flexible and adaptable and easy and do-ahead.

No lie.

Serve it warm or serve it at room temperature.  Stir in shredded chicken or lamb, or serve it alongside a roast of either.  Add tomatoes, or corn, or peas, or any vegetable, really.

I never make it the same way twice and love all my iterations.  Perhaps narcissistic, but I don’t think so.

I spy roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled corn, okra, pine nuts, scallions, kalamata olives, red onions, and feta cheese studding this version.  The soft, fluffy couscous pulls together all the lovely textures and flavors.

The basics are below – improvise away!  Include a combination of raw and cooked vegetables for the biggest flavor punch.  I bring this dish to almost every potluck I’m invited to – it actually improves as it sits there, looking pretty.

Couscous with Vegetables, Olives, & Raisins
Serves 4-6

1-10 oz. box plain couscous
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into matchstick pieces
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly into 1-inch pieces
3 oz. white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. raisins (or golden raisins, or currants), softened by heating in a microwave, with 1 tsp. of water, for 30 seconds
1/4 c. chopped scallions
1/4 c. chopped Kalamata olives
salt and pepper

Prepare couscous according to package directions.  Spread hot couscous out on a baking sheet, breaking up any clumps, and allow to cool to room temperature.  (Skip this step if you’re going to serve the couscous warm.)

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Stir in pepper, onion, and mushrooms and sauté until starting to wilt, about 8 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cumin, then garlic and raisins, and sauté for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer couscous to a bowl.  Stir in scallions and olives, then sautéed vegetables and any oil from the pan.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Optional stir-in ideas:
¼ toasted pine nuts
¼ c. chopped parsley
½ c. canned, drained chickpeas
¼ c. chopped fresh mint leaves
½ c. crumbled feta cheese
1 c. cooked, shredded chicken or lamb


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