Couscous Is Cool

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Couscous has a bit of an identity crisis. What is its origin? Is it a grain or pasta? Is it good for you? Is it a meal or a side dish? Is it lame or cool? Read on to get more acquainted with this wonderful and versatile dish.

uncooked couscous

uncooked couscous

 

Couscous is not some exotic heritage grain – it’s pasta! But it’s kinda like a grain. Couscous is weird. To be specific, couscous is actually tiny granules of steamed and dried durum semolina. North African in origin, it is now enjoyed worldwide. It is made from only semolina, the purified wheat middlings. This differentiates it from bulgur, with which it is sometimes confused. Bulgur is the whole-wheat grain that has been cracked and par-cooked, most commonly used to make tabouleh salad.

 

bulgur

bulgur

 

Couscous is made by mixing the finely ground semolina with water, then passing it through a sieve to achieve the desired miniscule size and shape, about three times the size of corn meal. Moroccan couscous, the small pebbly stuff we usually think of when thinking couscous, is steamed twice, and dried, so that when it comes to preparing it at home all we have to do is add an equal amount of boiling water or stock and let it sit for about five minutes. Israeli and Lebanese couscous pebbles are larger, about the size of a peppercorn and a small pea, respectively, and take a little while longer to prepare.

 

Israeli couscous salad

Israeli couscous salad

The beauty of Moroccan couscous is that it is ready to eat in such a short time, making it a desirable alternative to rice or pasta. A cup of cooked couscous contains 176 calories and two thirds of your RDA of selenium, as well as six grams of protein with no fat, sodium or sugar. You can also get whole wheat couscous, which has more bran and a wider variety of nutrients, similar to the difference between white bread and whole wheat bread.

On its own, couscous is rather bland, but it really shines as a base for other ingredients, whether fanciful or serious; adding fresh ingredients and an assortment of veggies, herbs and fruit makes a dish of couscous come alive. Depending on what you add, couscous can easily be an amazing one-dish main course, vegan or vegetarian, and not just a ho-hum side. It also makes an incredible salad for packing in lunchboxes and taking on long road trips, as it won’t wilt or get soggy. Bright and colourful and fun to eat, it will seduce the pickiest of eaters, just tell them couscous is what the cool kids are eating. Here is a quick and easy couscous recipe that you can whip up in no time, nutritious and delicious and bursting with lively, fresh flavours of the Mediterranean.

So to answer the question – is couscous cool? Yes.

But is it also kinda lame? It can be. But the power is within you to ensure it never is again. Make this delicious couscous recipe today.

Couscous With Olives, Currants and Almonds

serves two

1 cup couscous

1 cup boiling water

¼ cup chopped almonds

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon preserved lemon, chopped

2 tablespoons currants

a handful of oil-cured olives

¼ cup pomegranate arils 

juice of half a lemon lemon

two tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Place couscous in a large bowl and pour one cup of boiling water over it. Cover bowl and leave for five minutes. Remove lid and fluff couscous with a fork. Add the almonds, chopped parsley, preserved lemon, currants, olives and pomegranate. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper

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