Fruit-and-Spice Couscous Pilaf

Couscous raw

Couscous is a great grain (well, technically, it’s really pasta, but it “behaves” like a grain) for the busy cook. It needs only be soaked in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes and it’s done. It has the mild, familiar flavor of pasta—and no wonder, since semolina, from which it’s made, is the same wheat used to make pasta. Both refined and whole wheat couscous are readily available at natural food stores. Use whichever you prefer. 

Serves: 4 to 6

  • 1 cup raw couscous
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium apples, any variety, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruits of your choice (choose 2 to 3 from among
    raisins, currants, cranberries, cherries, chopped apricots, dates, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh or jarred ginger, or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds

Combine the couscous in a heat-proof dish with 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the margarine in a large skillet. Sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes over moderate heat,  or until translucent.

Place the apple dice on top of the onions in the skillet, cover, and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the apple has softened. Stir the apple-onion mixture, then stir the dried fruits into the skillet.

Stir the spices into 1/4 cup warm water. When the couscous is done, transfer it to the skillet along with the spice mixture. Stir well and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, just until the mixture is well blended and heated through.

Add salt and pepper, stir in the almonds, and serve.


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