We have had a number of requests to cook more side dishes in addition to the main courses and desserts. When we were cooking up our Greek Meatloaf I realized that I didn’t have any potatoes, so looking around the pantry I found a bag of couscous. Decision made!
When I first had couscous many years ago, I was under the mistaken impression that it was some sort of grain. It is actually a form of pasta made of semolina in granular form. I’m not sure of its origin, but it is very popular in North African cuisine. On its own, couscous is pretty bland tasting so often it is served underneath meat or vegetables. It can also be infused with flavorful ingredients, cooked in stock and many other options to give it a more substantial taste. Because couscous is granular, it cooks quickly and easily.
It happens that we had a lot of fresh dill and parsley on hand, so we wanted to add these flavors to the couscous along with some other things we had on hand. Almonds and raisins also added some crunch, sweetness and texture.
First, make a pesto using fresh herbs that you will cook with the couscous:
1 cup of fresh dill (you could also use basil or mint)
½ cup of fresh parsley
2 TBSP almonds or walnuts
1 clove of garlic or a small shallot
1 lemon, zest removed and juiced reserved
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Put everything in a food processor except the lemon and combine. This will be a loose kind of sauce, not thick as some pesto can be. Give it a taste, add more salt and pepper as preferred and, if you want a little more lemon flavor, add some of the reserved lemon juice. Once you’re good with the flavor, set mixture aside.
Now you can make the couscous:
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups couscous
Dill pesto mixture
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ golden raisins
Put chicken stock and dill pesto mixture in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add couscous, stir and cover pot. Let stand for about seven minutes. Remove lid and add almonds and raisins – fluff with fork to make sure everything is mixed together. Serve immediately.