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What Is Couscous and Is It Actually Healthy for You?

What Is Couscous and Is It Actually Healthy for You?


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Couscous may not be listed among the so-called “superfoods,” but it's well worth adding to your pantry.

Couscous is a pantry staple in many kitchens around the world, and for good reason. Common in North African cooking, couscous has a neutral flavor that makes it an ideal side dish for just about any protein or vegetable. It’s also delicious stuffed into peppers or as a base for a salads—but what is it, exactly?

It’s easy to assume couscous is just another healthy grain like bulgur or farro, but that’s not quite the full story. Here’s the funny thing about couscous: it looks and acts like a whole grain, but couscous is actually a type of pasta that’s made from semolina or ground durum wheat.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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So with that said, is couscous really that healthy—and should we be eating it at all? To find out, let’s break down the nutrition of this versatile ingredient.

Couscous Nutrition

Below, find the nutrition breakdown for a standard ⅓ cup serving of dry, uncooked Moroccan couscous. Note that this amount will yield about 1 cup cooked couscous.

Calories: 220
Fat: 0g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Unsaturated Fats: 0g
Carbohydrate: 45g
Sodium: 5mg
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 7g
Sugar: 0g
Added Sugars: 0g
Calcium: 2% DV
Potassium: 2% DV

Source: USDA

Fiber

Couscous notches impressive numbers in the fiber department. For a relatively small amount, you get just over 10% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber, which is only found in plant-based foods, is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut. A high fiber diet can also help regulate cholesterol levels in the body.

Carbohydrates

If you’re watching your blood sugar intake, however, you may want to limit the amount of couscous you’re eating. Like many forms of pasta, couscous is higher in simple or refined carbohydrates, which your body digests and converts into energy quickly. This can cause your blood sugar to spike and give you a short-lived rush of energy. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or sweet potatoes are digested slowly and supply energy over a longer amount of time.

Selenium

While it's not typically listed on nutrition labels, couscous (as well as all pasta) is an abundant source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant that works alongside vitamin E to promote healthy cells. Selenium also boosts your immune function and helps maintain thyroid health. Just one cup of cooked couscous supplies 43 mcg selenium, about 75% of your daily requirements (55 mcg). While the safe upper limit for selenium is 400 mcg—about nine times the amount in a serving of couscous—be aware that excessive intake can lead to adverse effects such as brittle nails and teeth, a metallic taste in your mouth, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, nervous system problems, and more.

Moroccan Couscous vs. Israeli Couscous

Take a trip down the grain aisle of the grocery store and you’ll probably see two different varieties of couscous. The most common variety is Moroccan couscous, which is smaller in size and cooks faster. There’s also Israeli couscous or pearl couscous, which is made from coarsely ground and toasted wheat flour. This variety is much larger in size and takes longer to cook.

The question is, is one type of couscous healthier than the other? To find out, we compared the nutrition information of both varieties from RiceSelect, a popular brand of couscous and other grains:

Source: USDA

As it turns out, the differences in calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein are pretty minimal. But if you’re looking to save a few calories and carbs and want a little more protein, opt for Moroccan couscous over Israeli couscous.

The Bottom Line: Couscous is mostly carbs (the refined kind) so to get the best nutrient bang for your buck, choose whole-wheat couscous, which has an additional punch of fiber and protein. And while couscous may not look as impressive on paper as powerhouse whole grains like quinoa or farro, it can still be part of a healthy diet. To get the most nutrition from couscous, sure you’re pairing it with vegetables such as leafy greens.

Ready to cook with couscous? Check out collection of healthy couscous recipes for plenty of delicious ideas.


Traditional couscous has a small, fine texture. However, you can buy larger grained varieties — most often called Israeli couscous but also known as giant couscous, and pearl couscous — which are the size of peppercorns. This variety takes a little bit longer to cook than its smaller cousin, and has a nuttier flavor and chewier texture.

What is Israeli Couscous?

Israeli couscous is different than North African couscous. It is a tiny pasta made of wheat and then toasted. Its texture is slippery and chewy. Because of its shape, Israeli couscous is also called pearl couscous. In Israel, Israeli couscous is called ptitim in Hebrew. While North African couscous is prepared by steaming, Israeli couscous is cooked in water like pasta.

What is Couscous Salad?

Both North African and Israeli couscous can be used in couscous salad to which raw or cooked vegetables, chicken, feta cheese, fruit, nuts, fresh herbs such as mint are added.


How to Cook Couscous

Welcome to couscous 101! Learn what it is, how to cook it, and how to serve it. Delicious and easy to make, it'll become a staple in your kitchen!

Couscous! I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but you might be wondering, “What is it, exactly?” Though it might seem like one, couscous is not actually a grain, but a tiny North African pasta! It’s a fantastic staple to keep on hand in your kitchen – it cooks in under 10 minutes, and you can use it in anything from salads to bowls to simple side dishes.

How to Cook Couscous

How you cook couscous will depend on what type you buy. In grocery stores, you will most often find these two varieties:

  • Pearl or Israeli couscous: It’s easy to see how pearl couscous got its name, as it’s shaped into round, pearl-like balls. I cook it like I do other kinds of pasta. First, I bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and then, I add the couscous, cooking for 7-8 minutes, or until al dente. As soon as I drain it, I toss it with a large glug of olive oil so that the pearls don’t stick together.
  • Traditional couscous (white or whole wheat): As you can see in the picture below, this variety is even smaller than quinoa! Consequently, it cooks in a flash. To cook it, measure a 1:1 ratio of couscous and water, and bring the water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the grains, cover the pot, and remove it from the heat. Let it stand for 5 minutes, covered, before you remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Though it’s not totally necessary, I also like to add a bit of olive oil and salt to the boiling water to add flavor and prevent clumping.

Couscous Recipes and Serving Ideas

Once you’ve cooked your couscous, you have all sorts of options for using it! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Make a couscous salad. Try making this one with roasted tomatoes and chickpeas, or substitute whole wheat couscous for the grain in any grain salad. It’s an especially great substitute for millet or quinoa.
  • Serve it as a side dish. Below, you’ll find my favorite way to prepare it as a simple side dish. I dress it up with herbs, lemon juice, pine nuts, and olive oil to make a bright, healthy pilaf. It pairs nicely with any protein, vegetable main dish, or soup!
  • Top it with a stew. Traditional Moroccan couscous is often served with stewy seasonal vegetables, and I adore this preparation. Find my riff on North African tagine on page 207 of Love and Lemon Every Day!
  • Make it a meal on its own! Make the recipe below. Then, top it with roasted veggies like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or butternut squash, drizzles of tahini sauce, and your favorite protein to make an easy meal!

More Plant-Based Cooking Basics

If you love this recipe, try one of these plant-based cooking components next:


Our Best Couscous Recipes

Couscous is one of those ingredients to keep stocked in your pantry. It’s a form of pasta (so it’s hearty and satisfying) and cooks up in a flash. It’s also incredibly versatile it can be used just like some of your favorite grains. From breakfast bowls to family-friendly dinners, a little couscous always comes in handy!

Related To:

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

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©marcus nilsson, Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop stylist: Robyn Glaser

Moroccan Couscous

Ina adds great flavor and texture to her couscous with sweet currants and crunchy, buttery pignoli nuts.

Sweet and Sour Couscous-Stuffed Peppers

Stuff couscous and beef into sweet bell peppers for a nutritious protein-packed meal. The bold colors of the antioxidant-packed bell peppers aren't just for decoration-the more bright colors you can pile onto your plate, the healthier your meal will be.

Pearl Couscous with Tomato Sauce

Al dente pearl couscous (which is made from the same ingredients as pasta) is right at home with a quick-and-simple tomato sauce. Top with fresh parsley for a crowd-pleasing side in just 20 minutes.

Perfect Couscous

Couscous isn&rsquot a grain, as some people may think &mdash it's actually a type of pasta made from durum wheat and shaped like a grain. The couscous you have in your pantry is most likely instant couscous that's been steamed and dried so it cooks very quickly, for a fast and easy side dish or base for a salad or bowl. Look for whole-wheat couscous in your supermarket it cooks in the same time as the regular variety and has all the virtues of whole wheat pasta. This recipe makes a big batch for make-ahead meal prep but is easily halved.

Garlic Chicken with Israeli Couscous

Looking for a way to switch up your classic chicken and rice? Try pairing your poultry with couscous instead. Anne makes hers with plenty of aromatic ingredients (like garlic, onion, saffron, thyme and citrus) for a dish that will have everyone running to the table.

Couscous with Carrots and Currants

Finish this light and delicious side dish simply &mdash with a bright pop of cilantro and mint.

Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous

Ina&rsquos easy couscous gets its lovely golden color (and delicious sweet-and-savory flavor) from the addition of saffron. Tender, browned zucchini and fresh herbs are the perfect way to round out the flavors and add a nice pop of color.

Scampi on Couscous

This 5-star recipe has rave reviews from Food Network fans who say that it&rsquos &ldquo a keeper&rdquo that will please even the pickiest of eaters.

Grilled Vegetable Couscous

A simple way to add tons of flavor to plain couscous? Stir in grilled leeks and mushrooms &mdash and top everything off with nutty, toasted almonds.

Cauliflower Couscous

This simple, 20-minute side has the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors thanks to cauliflower, cinnamon and dates.

Curried Roasted Vegetable and Couscous Salad

Couscous is a fantastic way to bulk up any green salad. Here, we&rsquore combining it with curried, roasted vegetables and an easy-to-make yogurt-lime dressing for a meal you'll eat again and again.

Mushroom Couscous

Quick-cooking couscous makes fast work of dinner. This simple, delicious side is ready in just 20 minutes.

Strawberry Couscous Breakfast Bowl

While oats are often the first choice for a healthy breakfast, utilizing other whole grains like couscous, millet, amaranth, farro and quinoa keep mornings from becoming mundane. Make a batch of couscous the night before, so that come morning, all you have to do is add toppings like fruits, nuts, coconut and flax seed for a 5-minute healthy breakfast.

Crowd-Pleasing Couscous

Israeli couscous is made with wheat just like other varieties but its larger, pearl-like pieces mean that it has a nice, chewy texture when cooked.

Israeli Couscous with Squash

When the weather gets chilly, there&rsquos nothing more satisfying than this hearty dish, made with chewy Israeli couscous and savory-sweet butternut squash.

Moroccan Couscous

This couscous gets it bold aroma and flavor from a quick, homemade spice blend (that you can make up to 2 weeks in advance). The ingredient list might look daunting, but don&rsquot be intimidated &mdash you&rsquoll find that most of the ingredients are already in your pantry.

Moroccan Seafood Stew with Couscous

Couscous cooks up in almost no time at all, making it the perfect base for quick meals. Here, we pair it with equally as speedy shrimp and mussels for a flavorful bowl of seafood stew.

Toasted Couscous Broccoli Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing

A quick homemade buttermilk substitute gives a great tangy flavor to this salad with fresh broccoli and toasty couscous.

Cherry Couscous Pudding

A sweet take on a typically savory dish. Instead of broth, cook your couscous in a combo of skim and almond milk &mdash and add dried cherries and a cinnamon stick for extra flavor. Don&rsquot forget to fluff it up!

Israeli Couscous with Parmesan

This 15-minute dish makes a fantastic side or vegetarian main. Chopped pistachios add buttery flavor and a nice crunch &mdash and are the perfect source of plant-based protein.

Spiced Couscous and Chicken

Weeknight dinners are easy when you start with couscous. Make it the base of your bowl and top with protein and veggies for a complete meal.

Moroccan-Spiced Couscous with Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs get a filling and flavorful makeover with the addition of savory couscous and a refreshing cucumber salad. Perfect for brunch or breakfast-for-dinner-inspired meals.


11 Couscous Side Dishes for the Ultimate Fall Meal

Couscous is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make a meal complete. A North African staple, couscous is actually made from semolina, a type of wheat, and comes in a variety of forms. You can choose from instant (pour boiling water in and let sit for five minutes – voila!) and the more traditional non-instant that requires more cooking time. Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, is a toasted pearl-shaped nutty tasting gem also made from semolina. No matter what type you choose, if you make any of these 11 types of couscous side dishes for fall, you won’t be disappointed.

1. Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Pine Nuts, and Currants

This is a great make-ahead recipe that has crunch from the pine nuts and a hint of sweetness from the currants (or substitute raisins, if you can’t find them at the store). Saffron adds both flavor and a terrific red hue. Get the recipe here.

2. Israeli Couscous with Apples, Feta, and Mint

Fresh mint, lemon juice, and creamy feta make for a fresh side dish that you can serve for lunch or dinner. Substitute pears instead of apples depending on the season and make extra to serve the next day this recipe makes for great leftovers. Get the recipe here.

3. Sweet and Savory Moroccan Couscous

Moroccan couscous with prunes, raisins, almonds, chickpeas, and seasoned with turmeric, black pepper, cumin, sweet paprika, and salt is a delicious combination that pairs well with grilled meat.
Get the recipe here.

4. Browned Butternut Squash Couscous

Our recipe for butternut squash couscous is a great way to get some vegetables into your meal and add a little color. Almonds, scallions, and cumin add flavor to the whole-wheat couscous, but you can use any type of couscous you have on hand. Get our Browned Butternut Squash Couscous recipe.

5. Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms

If you’re looking for a wholesome vegetarian side dish, look no further. Use Portobello mushrooms and stuff them with a mixture of couscous (any kind you have on hand), raisins, cinnamon, onion, pine nuts, parsley, and some salt and pepper. Get the recipe here.

6. Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Chowhound’s recipe for Israeli couscous is packed with fresh parmesan, roasted cherry tomatoes, and a lemon vinaigrette made with olive oil and any combination of fresh herbs that you have. Get our Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Lemon Vinaigrette recipe.

7. Roasted Winter Vegetable Couscous

This is a dish that takes very little effort for a nutritious and filling side dish that has endless variations. Roast some winter vegetables (squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc) and flavor with dried herbs. Use whole-wheat couscous to keep it as healthy and protein-packed as possible. Get the recipe here.

8. Cilantro Almond Couscous

A wonderfully simple combination, this couscous pairs beautifully with grilled lamb, fish, or any type of meat. The Middle Eastern flavors are subtle but add some pizzazz to plain old couscous. Get our Cilantro Almond Couscous recipe.

9. Couscous with Kalamata Olives

This Greek take on couscous is a great pairing for roasted lamb or served with a salad. Grape tomatoes, red onions, parsley, feta, garlic, and whole wheat couscous make for a healthy and filling side dish.

10. Mediterranean Couscous Salad

A hummus dressing made from olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and hummus mades for an interesitng addition to this couscous salad. Mix in roasted, salted pistachios, scallions, feta, and red bell pepper for a complete Mediterranean inspired feast. Get our Mediterranean Couscous Salad recipe.

11. Couscous Cakes

These are an easy way to make a side dish that’s a little more interesting than just a pile of grains. Make a couscous cake (similar to a veggie burger) and change up the flavorings, spices, and add-ins. Get the recipe here.


Chef John's Quick Chicken Couscous Is the Other Fast Food

This quick, cheap, and easy recipe is also highly adaptable.

When I was much younger, and not quite as wise, I lived on a steady diet of fast food. I&aposm talking at least one meal a day, and often more. It was fast, cheap, and easy, and when you&aposre in your twenties, fast, cheap, and easy are two more reasons than you need to do anything.

As I got older, I slowly but surely weaned myself off the drive-thru lane, but my love of fast food never went away, and so I started making it for myself, using products like couscous. Maybe not exactly the same as a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and fries, but it was fast, cheap, and easy, and significantly more delicious, once you get use to food not containing copious amounts of MSG.

This chicken couscous is one of our go-to meals, and as long as the boiling hot broth to couscous ratio is maintained, you can adapt this a thousand ways. The real key here is making sure you coat your "grains," which are actually tiny pieces of pasta, with plenty of olive oil, which will ensure a light and fluffy texture. Other than that, and making sure you&aposve properly seasoned things, not much can go wrong, which is why I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Get the recipe for Chef John&aposs Quick Chicken Couscous.


Contents

The word "couscous" is of Berber origin, [9] [10] [11] The exact formation of the word presents some obscurities. [9] The Berber root √K-S means "well formed, well rolled, rounded". [9] [10] Numerous names and pronunciations for couscous exist around the world. [12] : 919

According to Charles Perry, couscous originated among the Berbers of Algeria and Morocco between the 11th century and 13th century, sometime between the end of the Zirid dynasty and the rise of the Almohad Caliphate. [11] The historian Hady Roger Idris noted that couscous is attested in the Hafsid era, but not in the Zirid era. [13] Food historian Lucie Bolens believes couscous originated several millennia earlier, during the reign of Masinissa in the ancient kingdom called Numidia in present-day Algeria. [14] [15]

Known in France since the 16th century, it was integrated into French cuisine at the beginning of the 20th century, via the French colonial Empire and the Pieds-Noirs of Algeria. The oldest known traces of couscoussiers are found in graves from the 3rd century BC, from the time of berber king Masinissa of Numidia (in present-day northern Algeria), one of cradles of wheat cultivation. [16]

In the twelfth century, Maghrebi cooks were preparing dishes of non-mushy grains by stirring flour with water to create light, round balls of couscous dough that could be steamed. [17] The historian Maxime Rodinson has found three recipes for couscous in the 13th-century Arabic cookbook Kitab al-Wusla ila al-Habib, written by an Ayyubid author. [13]

The first known written recipes for couscous come from Andalusian authors and in modern-day Trapani, Sicily the dish is still made according to the medieval recipe recorded by Andalusi author Ibn Razin al-Tujibi. Jews from Spain and Portugal introduce cuscussu to Tuscan cuisine when they settle in Livorno at the end of 16th century. Families that moved from Tabarka to Liguria brought their own versions of the dish with them to Carloforte in the 18th century. [18]

Couscous is traditionally made from the hard part of the durum, the part of the grain that resisted the grinding of the millstone. The semolina is sprinkled with water and rolled with the hands to form small pellets, sprinkled with dry flour to keep them separate, and then sieved. Any pellets that are too small to be finished granules of couscous fall through the sieve and are again rolled and sprinkled with dry semolina and rolled into pellets. This labor-intensive process continues until all the semolina has been formed into tiny granules of couscous. In the traditional method of preparing couscous, groups of people come together to make large batches over several days, which are then dried in the sun and used for several months. Handmade couscous may need to be re-hydrated as it is prepared this is achieved by a process of moistening and steaming over stew until the couscous reaches the desired light and fluffy consistency. [19]

In some regions couscous is made from farina or coarsely ground barley or pearl millet. In Brazil, the traditional couscous is made from cornmeal. [20]

In modern times, couscous production is largely mechanized, and the product is sold in markets around the world. This couscous can be sauteed before it is cooked in water or another liquid. [19] Properly cooked couscous is light and fluffy, not gummy or gritty. Traditionally, North Africans use a food steamer (called ataseksut in Berber, a كِسْكَاس kiskas in Arabic or a couscoussier in French). The base is a tall metal pot shaped rather like an oil jar in which the meat and vegetables are cooked as a stew. On top of the base, a steamer sits where the couscous is cooked, absorbing the flavours from the stew. The lid to the steamer has holes around its edge so steam can escape. It is also possible to use a pot with a steamer insert. If the holes are too big, the steamer can be lined with damp cheesecloth. There is little archaeological evidence of early diets including couscous, possibly because the original couscoussier was probably made from organic materials that could not survive extended exposure to the elements.

The couscous that is sold in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried. It is typically prepared by adding 1.5 measures of boiling water or stock to each measure of couscous then leaving covered tightly for about five minutes. Pre-steamed couscous takes less time to prepare than regular couscous, most dried pasta, or dried grains (such as rice).

Algeria and Morocco Edit

In Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, couscous is generally served with vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and turnips) cooked in a spicy or mild broth or stew, and some meat (generally, chicken, lamb or mutton). In Algeria and Morocco it may be served at the end of a meal or by itself in a dish called "sfouff". The couscous is usually steamed several times until it is fluffy and pale in color. It is then sprinkled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar. Traditionally, this dessert is served with milk perfumed with orange flower water, or it can be served plain with buttermilk in a bowl as a cold light soup for supper. Moroccan couscous uses saffron. Algerian couscous includes tomatoes and a variety of legumes and vegetables, Saharan couscous is served without legumes and without broth. [15]

Mauritania Edit

Mauritanian couscous is different from the type eaten in North Africa, as it uses large wheat grains (mabroum) and is darker than the usually yellow couscous in Morocco. It may be served with lamb, beef, or camel meat along with vegetables, primarily onion, tomato, and carrots, all cooked in sauce and served with ghee, locally known as dhen.

Tunisia Edit

In Tunisia, it is made mostly spicy with harissa sauce and served commonly with any dish, including lamb, fish, seafood, beef and sometimes, in southern regions, camel. Fish couscous is a Tunisian specialty and can also be made with octopus, squid or other seafood in hot, red, spicy sauce.

Libya Edit

In Libya, it is mostly served with meat, specifically mostly lamb, but also camel, and rarely beef, in Tripoli and the western parts of Libya, but not during official ceremonies or weddings. Another way to eat couscous is as a dessert it is prepared with dates, sesame, and pure honey, and locally referred to as "maghrood".

Israel Edit

In Israel, and among members of Maghrebi Jewish communities in the diaspora, couscous is a common food. Couscous is not indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean but it is a very popular dish in the country, and it is a staple of the Sephardic community and people of all backgrounds.

In addition, Israelis of all backgrounds commonly eat ptitim, also known as Israeli couscous, or pearl couscous, which is similar to regular couscous except it is larger like the Ashkenazi farfel or the Levantine maftoul (though ptitim does not contain bulgur unlike maftoul). Ptitim is a staple food and is very popular, especially with children, and is commonly served with butter or cooked with vegetables or chicken broth. However, it is prepared more similarly to pasta and is only boiled for a few minutes, and it is not steamed and fluffed like the Maghrebi couscous. There are other shapes of ptitim, including a shape which resembled rice, which is also known as Ben Gurion’s and is served at almost every meal, especially on holidays, special occasions and celebrations, as well as on Shabbat (Jewish sabbath), for their Friday night dinners. Many people make their own couscous by hand, but it is a very labor-intensive process. It is also common to buy instant couscous, and there are a large variety of brands and varieties for sale in Israel.

Different communities have different styles and sizes of couscous, similar to the differences in size and style between the couscous of the different cuisines of the Maghreb. Moroccan Jewish couscous is larger, and is frequently prepared with aromatic spices and served with meat. Algerian Jewish couscous is smaller. The smallest is Tunisian Jewish couscous, which is not much larger than grains of coarse sand. Tunisian Jewish couscous is often served with harissa or shkug, or cooked with vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, or potatoes and served with chamin, a Maghrebi Jewish beef stew similar to cholent, that is often served for Shabbat. Couscous is also be prepared with cinnamon sticks, orange and other citrus peel, and aromatic spices for special occasions and celebrations. [21] It is not common to find sweet couscous or dessert couscous in Israel, as in Egypt and other countries.

Egypt Edit

In Egypt, couscous is eaten more as a dessert. It is prepared with butter, sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and nuts and topped with cream. [ citation needed ]

Palestine Edit

In the Palestinian community, North African style couscous is not consumed. The Palestinians instead prepare a dish called maftoul, which is also consumed in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan and is called mograhbieh. Maftoul can be considered to be a special type of couscous but made from different ingredients and a different shape. It is significantly larger than North African couscous, and is similar in size to Israeli couscous, but has a different preparation. Maftoul is similarly steamed as North African couscous and often served on special occasions in a chicken broth with garbanzo beans and tender pieces of chicken taken off the bone. Maftoul is an Arabic word derived from the root "fa-ta-la", which means to roll or to twist, which is exactly describing the method used to make maftoul by hand-rolling bulgur with wheat flour. Couscous may be used to make a breakfast tabbouleh salad. Though usually cooked in water, it can also be cooking in another liquid, like apple juice, and served with dried fruit and honey. [19]

Levant Edit

In the Levant (excluding Israel and the Palestinian territories) they consume a large type of couscous with bulgur at the center, similar to the Palestinian maftoul, called mograhbieh, which is commonly served in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan as part of a stew or cooked in chicken broth with cinnamon, caraway and chickpeas.

Europe Edit

The introduction of couscous into the Iberian Peninsula was in the period of the Berber dynasties in the thirteenth century. It spread quickly among its Muslim inhabitants, and the anonymous Arabic book Kitab al tabikh and Fadalat al-khiwan by Ibn Razin al-Tujibi, include couscous recipes. [15]

Couscous is also consumed in France, where it is considered a traditional dish, and has also become common in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece. Indeed, many polls have indicated that it is often a favorite dish. [22] In France, Spain and Italy, the word "couscous" (cuscús in Catalan, Spanish cuscus in Italian cuscuz in Portuguese) usually refers to couscous together with the stew. Packaged sets containing a box of quick-preparation couscous and a can of vegetables and, generally, meat are sold in French, Spanish and Italian grocery stores and supermarkets. In France, it is generally served with harissa sauce, a style inherited from the Tunisian cuisine. Indeed, couscous was voted as the third-favourite dish of French people in 2011 in a study by TNS Sofres for magazine Vie Pratique Gourmand, and the first in the east of France. [23] [24]

West Africa Edit

In the Sahelian countries of West Africa, such as Mali and Senegal, the equivalent of couscous is called thiep, and it is made out of pearl millet pounded or milled to the size and consistency of couscous. [25] [4]

Nutrition facts
Serving size 1 cup (173 g)
Servings per container Information is per cooked wheat couscous as determined by Nutrient Data Laboratory, ARS, USDA. [26]
Amount per serving
Calories 176 Calories from fat 2
% Daily value*
Total fat 0.25 g 0%
Saturated fat 0.05 g 0%
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 8 mg 0%
Potassium 91 mg 3%
Total carbohydrate 36 g 12%
Dietary fiber 2 g 1%
Sugars 0 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% Iron 2%
*Percent daily values are based on a 2,000‑calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

In a one cup reference amount, wheat couscous provides 6 grams of protein, 36 grams of carbohydrates, and negligible fat.

Couscous is distinct from pasta, even pasta such as orzo and risoni of similar size, in that it is made from crushed durum wheat semolina, while pasta is made from ground wheat. Couscous and pasta have similar nutritional value, although pasta is usually more refined. Pasta is cooked by boiling and couscous is steamed. [3] Burghul or bulgur is a kind of parboiled dried cracked wheat of similar size to couscous, cooked by adding boiling water and leaving for a few minutes to soften.

    is a variety of couscous that is a staple food in Côte d'Ivoire and is also known to surrounding regions of West Africa, made from grated cassava. are pasta bullets made by the same process but are larger than the grains of couscous.
  • In Brazilian cuisine, cuscuz marroquino is a version, usually eaten cold, of couscous. Brazilian cuscuz is usually made out of cornmeal rather than semolina wheat. Another festive moulded couscous dish containing chicken, vegetables, spices, steamed in a mould and decorated with orange slices is called cuscuz de galinha. [citation needed]
  • Kouskousaki (Κουσκουσάκι in Greek or kuskus in Turkish), a pasta from Greece and Turkey, that is boiled and served with cheese and walnuts.
  • In Lebanese cuisine, Jordanian cuisine and Palestinian cuisine, a similar but larger product is known as maftoul or moghrabieh. , eaten in South India, Western India, and Sri Lanka is a thick porridge made with dry roastedsemolina. It also uses vegetables such as peas, carrots, etc.
  • Cuscuz ( Portuguese pronunciation: [kusˈkus] ), a popular recipe usually associated with Northeastern Brazil and its diaspora, is steamed corn meal (which can be made with a cake mold) served alone or with sugar and milk, varied meats, cheese and eggs or other ingredients, usually named "tempero", meaning seasoning.

In December 2020, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia obtained an inscription for the knowledge, know-how and practices pertaining to the production and consumption of couscous on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and hailed as an "example of international cooperation." [27] [28]


Vegetable Couscous

I just love this vegetable couscous. It’s such a simple and delicious side dish recipe.

Couscous is a very versatile grain. It’s quick and easy to make it the star of the meal, or a great side.

What is Couscous?

It is made from wheat, so it’s not gluten free. If you really need any couscous recipe to be gluten free you can replace the couscous with an equal amount of cooked quinoa. It will still taste great and not interfere with any dietary issues.

How to Make Couscous

Couscous is usually cooked in boiling water and seasoned after it is cooked, but this recipe adds extra flavor by steeping the couscous in chicken or vegetable broth. Before you add any other ingredients your couscous already has great flavor from the broth. All you need to do is add some vegetables and a few more flavorings and you’re good to go.

I haven’t added any salt to the recipe because most of us use prepared broth, which has quite a bit of salt in it already. The soy sauce that’s added later is also salty. You can always add extra salt once it’s prepared if you want.


Cooking couscous is super simple. Once you know the couscous-to-water ratio, you’re good to go! If you’re making whole wheat Moroccan style couscous, use 1 1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry couscous. If you’re making regular Moroccan couscous, reduce the water to 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of dry couscous. Be sure to check package directions, as different brands may call for different amounts of water. Couscous expands a lot after cooking, so one cup of dry couscous will usually make about 4 servings.

To prepare the couscous, bring the water to a boil then add the couscous and remove it from heat. Let it sit, covered, for about 5 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Simply fluff with a fork and you’re ready to serve it!

This recipe is an easy way to prepare couscous that gives it a ton of flavor. Be sure to use fresh Parmesan cheese in this recipe. I like to grate it just before serving!


11 Couscous Side Dishes for the Ultimate Fall Meal

Couscous is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make a meal complete. A North African staple, couscous is actually made from semolina, a type of wheat, and comes in a variety of forms. You can choose from instant (pour boiling water in and let sit for five minutes – voila!) and the more traditional non-instant that requires more cooking time. Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, is a toasted pearl-shaped nutty tasting gem also made from semolina. No matter what type you choose, if you make any of these 11 types of couscous side dishes for fall, you won’t be disappointed.

1. Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Pine Nuts, and Currants

This is a great make-ahead recipe that has crunch from the pine nuts and a hint of sweetness from the currants (or substitute raisins, if you can’t find them at the store). Saffron adds both flavor and a terrific red hue. Get the recipe here.

2. Israeli Couscous with Apples, Feta, and Mint

Fresh mint, lemon juice, and creamy feta make for a fresh side dish that you can serve for lunch or dinner. Substitute pears instead of apples depending on the season and make extra to serve the next day this recipe makes for great leftovers. Get the recipe here.

3. Sweet and Savory Moroccan Couscous

Moroccan couscous with prunes, raisins, almonds, chickpeas, and seasoned with turmeric, black pepper, cumin, sweet paprika, and salt is a delicious combination that pairs well with grilled meat.
Get the recipe here.

4. Browned Butternut Squash Couscous

Our recipe for butternut squash couscous is a great way to get some vegetables into your meal and add a little color. Almonds, scallions, and cumin add flavor to the whole-wheat couscous, but you can use any type of couscous you have on hand. Get our Browned Butternut Squash Couscous recipe.

5. Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms

If you’re looking for a wholesome vegetarian side dish, look no further. Use Portobello mushrooms and stuff them with a mixture of couscous (any kind you have on hand), raisins, cinnamon, onion, pine nuts, parsley, and some salt and pepper. Get the recipe here.

6. Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Chowhound’s recipe for Israeli couscous is packed with fresh parmesan, roasted cherry tomatoes, and a lemon vinaigrette made with olive oil and any combination of fresh herbs that you have. Get our Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Lemon Vinaigrette recipe.

7. Roasted Winter Vegetable Couscous

This is a dish that takes very little effort for a nutritious and filling side dish that has endless variations. Roast some winter vegetables (squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc) and flavor with dried herbs. Use whole-wheat couscous to keep it as healthy and protein-packed as possible. Get the recipe here.

8. Cilantro Almond Couscous

A wonderfully simple combination, this couscous pairs beautifully with grilled lamb, fish, or any type of meat. The Middle Eastern flavors are subtle but add some pizzazz to plain old couscous. Get our Cilantro Almond Couscous recipe.

9. Couscous with Kalamata Olives

This Greek take on couscous is a great pairing for roasted lamb or served with a salad. Grape tomatoes, red onions, parsley, feta, garlic, and whole wheat couscous make for a healthy and filling side dish.

10. Mediterranean Couscous Salad

A hummus dressing made from olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and hummus mades for an interesitng addition to this couscous salad. Mix in roasted, salted pistachios, scallions, feta, and red bell pepper for a complete Mediterranean inspired feast. Get our Mediterranean Couscous Salad recipe.

11. Couscous Cakes

These are an easy way to make a side dish that’s a little more interesting than just a pile of grains. Make a couscous cake (similar to a veggie burger) and change up the flavorings, spices, and add-ins. Get the recipe here.


Watch the video: Doctor, is Couscous a Grain? Is Couscous similar to Quinoa or Brown Rice? Is it a Healthy Choice? (May 2022).