While couscous may look like a grain, it is actually more similar to pasta. Like pasta, it is made from semolina flour, however unlike pasta, boiled couscous will turn into a porridge rather than hold its shape. Couscous is a staple food in North African countries, and has been used since the 1300’s as a cheap source of carbohydrates. It has grown in popularity worldwide in recent years, and can now be easily bought in most stores.
There are three main types of couscous. The most popular type is Moroccan couscous which is the smallest form, as it cooks in minutes. Pearl couscous ( or Israeli couscous) is larger and holds its shape well in more moist dishes. Lebanese couscous is the largest of the three types, and takes the longest to cook.
Couscous can be bought in white and whole wheat versions, although the whole wheat version can be harder to source. It is worth searching for however, as the whole wheat version is much healthier, containing 6g of fiber per half cup serving. It is also high in the antioxidant selenium, and in B vitamins which are needed for a healthy nervous system and energy metabolism.
How to use
All forms of couscous have a relatively neutral taste, and can be seasoned in many diffent ways to create interesting meals. It is perfect for quick weeknight meals, as it can be prepared in just 15 minutes. Try pea couscous with poached egg or this Mediterranean inspired roasted tomato and olive pearl couscous for some fast feasts. Mix it with milk, spices and fruit to make a delicious breakfast couscous or serve it as a tasty side with this couscous stuffing recipe. You can also use it in place of other grains in a variety of other recipes, like this nutritious beet tabbouleh– the possibilities are endless, so get creative!
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