Couscous with Raisins and Toasted Almonds

couscous-4

For many Americans, couscous is a bit like the mystery meat at the school cafeteria; everybody’s eaten it, but nobody really knows exactly what it is. It’s pasta, itty bitty teeny weeny pasta. Couscous is made from coarsely ground semolina and wheat flour, and is a dietary staple in North African countries like Morocco, playing the same role as rice in Asian countries.

couscous

The real deal couscous is traditionally cooked in a couscoussière, which looks like a large steamer. Veggies and meats go in the bottom pot, and the couscous goes into the perforated basket on top, to be steamed as the main dish cooks under it.

couscous-2

I am not ambitious enough to either own my own couscoussière or to cook the real deal stuff. I buy the instant couscous, the kind that you add to boiling water, wait 5 minutes and voilà, instant gratification. I’m all about instant gratification when I get home from work and have to feed my hungry brood. It’s a nice change from rice or pasta, and there are countless flavoring combinations, both savory and sweet, to keep you from getting bored with it.

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Here is a simple recipe that is full of flavor.  Serve it with grilled Moroccan Chicken Brochettes that you marinated the night before, and you have dinner on the table before the kids and/or significant others start gnawing on the furniture for sustenance.

Couscous with Raisins and Toasted Almonds

1 cup instant couscous
½ cup golden raisins
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp turmeric
1½ cup chicken broth or stock
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste

Toast the almond slivers in a dry pan over medium high heat until they just turn golden. Soak the raisins in a bowl with enough hot water to cover them. Set aside while you prepare the couscous. In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth and turmeric to a boil. Add the couscous, mix, and remove from heat.  Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork, then drain the raisins and fold them in to the couscous along with the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Printable Recipe)

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  2. Affordable Beef Stroganoff
  3. My Favorite Chicken Salad

13 comments to Couscous with Raisins and Toasted Almonds

  • I have never heard of a couscoussière until now. I swear I have learned more little tid-bits since I’ve started reading blogs. Love the recipe. I prefer the larger Israeli couscous so think I’ll try this with that.

    Lea Ann
    http://www.highlandsranchfoodie.wordpress.com

  • YUM! This recipe looks delicious! I’ve never used tumeric before – is it pretty easy to find or is there anything else similar to use instead of it? Thanks for the great idea for couscous!

    • simon

      You can find dried tumeric at any supermarket. It is a vibrant yellow, slightly pungent spice which gives curries in which it is used their distinctive yellow colour.

      Prepared curry powder is a mix of ground spices, and tumeric is one of the central ingredients. Others include chillie, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper and curry leaves. (These are the ingredients of Madras curry powder.)

      Fresh tumeric is very different. It grows in hot climates and is similar to root spices such as ginger and galangal (Laos root).

      Shredded, fresh tumeric looks similar to shredded carrot. It adds a little heat and a fresh, fragrant, pungent flavour which is far removed from that of the powdered tumeric commonly used around the world.

  • Karen

    Gina: Turmeric is pretty easy to find; If I can find it at Wal-Mart in Wichita, you can probably find it anywhere :) It’s actually a more affordable stand-in for the extremely expensive saffron, which is traditionally used in Moroccan cuisine. It’s what gives the couscous that beautiful yellow color.

  • This looks really nice. The recipe looks very simple too. It’s my kind of recipe:)

  • Karen

    Lea Ann: Would you believe I have only been able to find Israeli couscous in one single store in Wichita? A really small box of it, for about 6 bucks. I mean it’s pasta, for goodness sake. I’m going to have to do another road trip and stock up!

    CheapAppetite: Mine too!

  • really creative and very simple, I love it!

  • Simple and crunchy. I like it. Unfortunately, I’ve haven’t been able to find couscous for the past few months where I live. Sniff. I do miss my Tabbouleh!

  • I was craving this so bad a couple of weeks ago! Does turmeric give a similar taste to saffron because I have noticed that many recipes have either one or the other but have only tasted the saffron version…

  • Karen

    Miakoda: If you are having trouble finding couscous, I think you might have trouble finding bulgur wheat, but if you can, give it a try instead of the couscous in your tabbouleh :)

    Beth: The flavor of turmeric and saffron are actually quite different. The small amount of turmeric I used in this dish were mainly for color and a wee bit of slightly tangy flavor (and a smaller grocery bill). Different, but still tasty :) If you were going to use saffron, just crumble a small pinch into the chicken broth in place of the turmeric.

  • I love couscous! Inspired by yours. Will make some tomorrow. :)
    Very nice blog you have as well.

  • raisins mainly attract my attention towards the recipe , is it indian food ?

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