Couscous is a strange little food. It’s much smaller than rice or quinoa, but when cooked in a similar way, it becomes a light, yet filling, side dish.

It’s made up of small balls of crushed durum wheat semolina, which are steamed until tender, similar to rice. Typically, it’s served with stew on top, though that’s up to you.

How Do You Cook Couscous?

Buying couscous is very similar to buying rice or pasta. It is, in a lot of ways, the same as pasta, as it consists of much the same ingredients as dry pasta (durum wheat and water). That said, it has a completely different texture and taste. It has very light, fluffy textures, and can be a little bland in flavour when served on its own, but it will readily soak up other flavours.

To make couscous as delicious as possible, there’s a basic recipe that you’d be wise to stick to in order to achieve a good balance between steaming and boiling. Pour roughly 355ml of water or stock over 150g of dry couscous.

Then, cover with a lid, and allow to stand for the couscous to swell for roughly five minutes. That should allow you to end up with a delicious, easy to eat side dish, perfect for soaking up juices from a hearty stew.

Before serving, fluff up the couscous with a fork to achieve optimum texture. You can also add some spices and distribute them throughout to add some extra flavour.

What Couscous Should I Buy?

As with dried rice or pasta, there really isn’t much difference in the product between different brands. Because of that, when paying a little more for your bag of couscous, you’re often not buying a different product, but instead making sure that everyone between the field and your dinner table gets compensated well for their work.

It is a staple dish in north African food, so it’s often grown there. Look out for bags of couscous which feature the fairtrade logo, as that ensures that all workers involved in the production of that product, as well as the shipping to your local supermarket, have been paid a fair wage.

How Healthy Is It?

As much as it may seem like a grain, it is technically pasta. This means that it contains mostly carbohydrates, as it’s made from semolina, but it does also contain good levels of protein and fibre

It also contains very little fat and no salt whatsoever! This means that it’s ideal for someone who is watching their salt intake, as you’ll only be eating as much salt as you put in.

Through my research for this article, I’ve discovered that it is incredibly easy to prepare (add hot water and leave to stand for five minutes!), plus it’s healthy too.

Having a lot of fibre in your diet is good for your gut health, so if eating couscous helps with that, it can’t be bad.

As much as this pasta-style ingredient isn’t suitable for people with a gluten-free diet, it’s definitely got a place in my cupboard!

If you follow Slimming World, Weight Watchers (WW), Noom or any other weight loss plan you can usually count couscous within your allowances. It is of course important to check any plan you follow.

Some recipes with couscous

Couscous is a great easy lunch idea and a good alternative to a sandwich or pasta if you fancy a change.

Moroccan chicken casserole

Mango couscous

Wholesome vegetable couscous

Roasted vegetable couscous

vegetable couscous in a white bowl
Mixed vegetable couscous

Other ingredients tips you may like

If you like to cook with different ingredients and find different ways of using them then here are a few other articles I think you might like.

All you need to know about celeriac and how to use it

Oats an original superfood with lots of uses

How to grow your own vegetables from scraps

Jackfruit – what is it and how to use it

Cranberry juice – what are the benefits of it and how can you enjoy it

Seaweed – an unusual ingredient you should consider

mixed vegetables on a wooden table
Mixed vegetables

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