Couscous is a semolina grain, similar to a cross between rice and pasta that is popular in Middle Eastern dishes. There are instant variations of the food that cook quickly and are popular in Western fare. Most frequently couscous is served topped with vegetables, sauces, and meats. It can also be flavored with spices and served as a side dish.
How to Cook Couscous
Cooking couscous is easy. Most recipes call for 1¼ cups water for each cup of dry, uncooked couscous. If you are using instant couscous, check the instructions on the back of the box. You will also want to add ½ teaspoon of salt to the water and a teaspoon of olive oil to keep the granules from becoming sticky once they are cooked. You can substitute butter for the oil, but olive oil is considered a healthier fat. Skipping the oil or butter reduces the calorie content and might be unnoticeable in some final preparations, so use your judgment.
Bring the salt water to a boil and add the couscous. Remove the mixture from heat and cover. The couscous granules will soak up the water in about five to eight minutes. Once there is no standing water in the mixture, fluff the couscous with a fork or spoon. It is ready to be served, but you can liven up the dish in a variety of ways.
Livening Up Your Couscous
Couscous is typically a side dish and blends well with veggies, nuts, fruit, or spices. You can chop up bell peppers, onions, and zucchini for healthy serving of veggies in your couscous. Sweeten this mix with pineapple or mandarin oranges. You can also make a sweet couscous with chopped apples, walnuts, and raisins. Nuts are a great addition to couscous because they add crunch to an otherwise soft, chewy dish.
Couscous also mixes well with poultry and seafood. In addition to fruits and vegetables, chop boneless chicken breast or shrimp and add to the couscous mixture. You can also create salads from couscous. Let the couscous cool and add raw vegetables and a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Couscous can also be added to salads that have a based of leafy greens. It makes a great addition to spinach salads with cranberry, almonds, and fruit vinaigrettes. You can also add couscous to lettuce wraps in place of rice or meat.
The thing people like best about couscous is its versatility. It enhances a meal and adds bulk to less filling dishes. It is healthier than traditional pasta, but milder than whole grain rice and quinoa. If you are searching for something to liven up your traditional meals, but you do not want to learn a complicated recipe, try adding couscous to your weekly meal schedule.