moroccan couscous with raisins and almonds in a serving dish

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Why I love this Moroccan couscous recipe

Side dishes can be hard sometimes. For me, they tend to be an afterthought, which means they can get be pretty basic – like roasted broccoli or mashed potatoes.

But, this year, I decided to give side dishes the time of day, and I’ve intentionally been working on more easy, flavorful side dish recipes, like saffron rice, Instant Pot baked beans and kale salad with homemade caesar dressing.

I made this Moroccan couscous to pair with my sweet and spicy shrimp with homemade Moroccan seasoning, but I’ve also served it with my meatball tagine recipe, too. I wanted it to pair well together without overdoing the seasonings, so I just added a hint of cumin and cinnamon with a mix of raisins and toasted nuts.

I used almonds, but you can use any nuts you have on hand (maybe not peanuts, but they might work). I think toasted pine nuts or pistachios would be a great option.

closeup of couscous recipe on a plate

What is couscous?

Before we go any further, I just want to touch on this in case couscous is new to you. Couscous is basically a super tiny pasta made from durum or semolina wheat flour.

It ranges in size from tiny, like I used in this recipe, or a bit larger, like you can see in this pearl couscous recipe.

So, while it’s definitely a pasta, I tend to treat it more like grain (like rice or quinoa) when cooking with it. Mostly because it’s so small.

cooked couscous in a saucepan

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

Moroccan couscous ingredients in a large saucepan

How to make Moroccan couscous

Sauté the savories. Heat a large saucepan to medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic and spices to the pan. Sauté them until the onions are translucent, stirring them as need to prevent burning.

Boil the vegetable broth. When the onions are soft and see-through, add the broth. Cover the pot, increase the heat and bring it to a boil.

Add the couscous. Remove the pot from the heat and add the couscous, salt & pepper to the boiling broth. Return the cover and let the couscous sit, with not heat, until it absorbs all of the liquid.

Garnish and serve. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the raisins, almonds and parsley before serving.

overhead image of moroccan couscous in a gray bowl

Frequently asked questions:

What can I add to couscous for flavor?

Vegetable broth can do a great deal for the flavor of couscous, as can salt. I used that as a base for this recipe and other savory ingredients, like onion, garlic and herbs, to add even more flavor.

Should I rinse couscous before cooking?

No. Unlike grains such as quinoa and rice, you don’t need to rinse couscous before cooking.

How do you keep couscous moist?

A little fat goes a long way in keeping couscous moist. I’ve added two tablespoons of olive oil to this recipe to prevent it from drying out.

Is couscous a protein or carb?

Couscous is made from wheat, so it is considered a carb. It does contain some protein, but there are significantly more carbohydrates in each serving.

closeup of the finished dish

This would be great with:

More easy side dish recipes:

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Easy, Moroccan Couscous Recipe

This Moroccan couscous recipe is a simplified, vegan version of the traditional dish, filled with sweet raisins, crunchy almonds and herbs. It might not be authentic, but it makes for an easy, flavorful side dish. Serve it warm with roasted vegetables or your favorite protein.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Moroccan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Heat a large saucepan to medium-high. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and spices. Sauté until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat stir in couscous. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the couscous has absorbed the broth.
  4. Stir in raisins, almonds and parsley before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 230
  • Sugar: 4.6 g
  • Sodium: 356.5 mg
  • Fat: 8.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 33.6 g
  • Fiber: 3.2 g
  • Protein: 6.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: dairy free, vegan, easy

Last Updated on November 23, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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5 Comments

  1. My husband absolutely loved this. I added Moroccan flavored turkey breast and it was an absolute hit!

  2. I made this twice now using the pearl couscous and it is delicious. I used toasted almonds. I pair it with Moroccan lamb stew. The second time I made it for guests and they loved it and requested the recipe. Both times it took longer for the pearls to absorb the broth than described in the recipe so I was worried it wouldn’t turn out right – so be patient. I also left the heat on low until liquid fully absorbed. Next time i might try a slight reduction of broth.

  3. I am allergic to cinnamon so i left it out but it was still amazing. Everyone in my household loved it

  4. This was absolutely fabulous! Perfect combination of sweet and savoury. I used whole wheat couscous and dried cranberries instead of raisins. A perfect little lunch