Couscous (1)
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  • Food: Couscous
  • Writer: Lizzie Green
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

Greetings, and welcome to Couscous 101! Learn about it, including what it is, how to prepare it, and how to serve it. It’ll become a kitchen standard because it’s delicious and simple to make!

Couscous! You’ve probably heard of it, but you might be thinking, “What exactly is it?” Though it may appear to be a grain, it is actually a little North African pasta!.

It’s a great kitchen staple to have on hand because it cooks in under 10 minutes and can be used in salads, bowls, and easy side dishes.

How to Prepare Couscous?

Couscous yum (1)
Food: Couscous (Source: The Kitchn)

The sort of couscous you buy will determine how you prepare it. These two types are the most common in supermarkets:

  • Pearl or Israeli couscous: With its round, pearl-like balls, it’s easy to see how pearl couscous received its name. I prepare it in the same way that I prepare other types of pasta. Start by boiling a large pot of salted water, then add the couscous and simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until it’s al dente. I toss it with a hefty glug of olive oil as soon as I drain it to keep the pearls from sticking together.
  • Couscous Classique (white or whole wheat): This kind is even smaller than quinoa, as you can see in the photo below! As a result, it cooks quickly. To make it, combine the couscous and water in a 1:1 ratio and bring to a boil. When the water has reached a boil, add the grains, cover the saucepan, and turn off the heat. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork after 5 minutes of standing covered. I also like to add a little olive oil and salt to the boiling water to add flavor and prevent clumping, while it’s not strictly necessary.

Couscous Serving Ideas

After you’ve cooked your couscous, you can use it in a variety of ways. Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Make a salad. Make this one with roasted tomatoes and chickpeas, or replace the grain in any grain salad with whole wheat couscous. It’s a particularly good millet or quinoa alternative.
  • It’s best served as a side dish. You’ll find my favorite way to make it as a simple side dish in the recipe below. To produce a vibrant, healthful pilaf, I add herbs, lemon juice, pine nuts, and olive oil. It goes well with just about every protein, veggie main meal, or soup!
  • Serve it with a stew on top. Traditional Moroccan couscous is frequently served with stewed seasonal vegetables, which I love. On page 207 of Love and Lemon Every Day, you’ll find my take on North African tagine.
  • Make it a complete supper! Make the following recipe. To make an easy supper, top it with roasted vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, tahini sauce, and your favorite protein.



Time to Prepare: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Time allotted: 10 minutes
Serving: 4–6


Couscous easy (1)
Food: Couscous (Source: The Kitchn)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • pinches of red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes after removing from the heat.
  2. Toss it with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and pine nuts in a large mixing basin with a fork.
  3. If preferred, serve the mixture on a serving dish with extra pine nuts, parsley, and red pepper flakes.