Couscous is a traditional dish of semolina that serves as a staple in North African countries including Morroco, Algeria, Lybia, Western Sahara, Tunisia and Mauritania. This dish is normally cooked by steaming and served with meat or vegetable stew. In North Africa, vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and turnips are cooked in a mild or spicy broth, and either lamb, mutton or chicken, are served alongside the staple. Couscous helps provide for a full, nutritious meal. Low in fat, couscous contains high amounts of dietary fibre, which aids with your digestive system. A similar product to couscous is Israeli couscous, which is a larger wheat product used similarly to couscous.

Here are some recipes that can be used whether you want something cool and refreshing, or a meal that warms the belly. Feel free to make your own adjustments and variations as you wish!

Refreshing Couscous Salad

This salad is perfect for a warm summer’s day as a light lunch, or as a complement to a meat such as chicken or lamb for a more substantial meal. It’s easy to pack to work and eat without heating up.



1 box couscous

1 can chickpeas

1 bell pepper

1 tomato

1 English cucumber

A few basil leaves

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

Lemon juice



  1. In a pot, steam the package of couscous according to directions  - one quarter to one half cup of couscous will suffice for an individual serving. Take off heat when finished and let it sit to cool.
  2. While the couscous is cooling, finely chop the pepper, tomato, and English cucumber.
  3. Open the can of chickpeas and drain the liquid. Mix the chickpeas with the couscous in a large bowl.
  4. Roll up the basil leaves and thinly chop them to release their flavors.
  5. Mix the finely chopped vegetables with the chickpeas and couscous along with the lemon juice and salt and pepper, leaving the basil to one side.
  6. Add salt and pepper as needed to flavor the mixture.
  7. Mix in the basil before serving.

Orange and Cranberry Couscous with Herbs

This dish makes a great sidekick to chicken for a meal with a sweeter taste. If you like, you can chop the chicken into slices and mix it into the couscous.


2 cups couscous

2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)

2 cups water

3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon thyme

1 cup dried cranberries

¼ cup orange zest

Salt and pepper



  1. In a pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add the couscous and cook until slightly browned, around 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth and water, heating the mixture until it is boiling. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and add remaining olive oil.
  5. Leave couscous to cool, then stir in orange juice, thyme, dried cranberries and orange zest.
  6. Flavor couscous mixture with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Optional: Slice chicken and mix into the couscous mixture.

Chicken Couscous Soup

This meal is great when you don’t feel like cooking much and want to eat something to warm yourself up in the wintertime. Just toss everything into the broth, wait a bit, and voila! It’s also a great way to get rid of older vegetables in your fridge.



1 cup couscous

4 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces

½ cup carrot, cut into bite sized pieces

½ cup onions, thinly sliced

½ cup mushrooms, thinly sliced




  1. In a large pot, heat the broth and olive oil until it comes to a boil.
  2. Add in the couscous and turn heat down to minimum. Stir with a spoon.
  3. Add in the broccoli florets, carrots, onions and mushrooms. Turn off heat.
  4. Wait 3-5 minutes for the vegetables to cook, then ladle a portion into a bowl. Add pepper to taste.

Couscous with Goat Cheese, Mushrooms and Onions

The combination of cheese, mushrooms and onions provides a decadent, rich flavor to this dish. The goat cheese melts onto the couscous mix like a dream, creating a smooth but slightly chewy texture. Combined with the couscous, this meal goes down easily and is a pleasure to eat. This recipe is a great complement to a red meat.



2 cups couscous

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme

½ cup onions, diced

½ cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 ounce goat cheese (or more if you prefer)

Salt and pepper



  1. In a pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add onions and mushrooms, cooking until onions begin to become translucent.
  3. Stir in couscous and cook, occasionally stirring for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth and water, bringing to a boil. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Take pot off heat and add rosemary and thyme to the mixture.
  6. Flavor couscous with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Serve couscous on to individual plates.
  8. Slice goat cheese into thin slices and top plates with cheese. Crack freshly ground pepper onto each dish if desired.

A Closing Note

That wasn’t too bad, was it? There are so many variations and different ways to prepare couscous; it can be the star of the show, or a perfect sidekick to a meat dish. As a staple, it complements a variety of flavors very well and is great for both cool and hot meals.

 Interestingly enough, in Morroco and

Algeria, couscous is sometimes served at the end of a meal

as a delicacy called seffa The couscous is steamed and mixed with almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. The mixture is served in a bowl of milk with a touch of orange flower water. In Egypt, couscous is served as a dessert by mixing the staple with butter, sugar, cinnamon, raisins and nuts. Cream is added as a final touch. If you’ve enjoyed couscous as part of your entrée, why not try it as a dessert

Tagines & Couscous: Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-pot Cooking
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