Fast and Easy herb Couscous- If you can boil water and chop up some fresh herbs, then you can whip up this fluffy and light side dish! It really is that easy and quick.
If your side dish routine is falling into a rut, and you're looking for a new and unique option, this fast and easy herb couscous recipe is the solution you're longing for!
With the fresh flavors of herbs and extra virgin olive oil, this dairy free side dish also checks the box as a healthy alternative to the usual potatoes. As you can see above, it's great with blackened chicken.
What is Couscous?
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what couscous actually is. Although it definitely appears as such, it is not a grain. It essentially is pasta, created in very much the same way, but in much smaller bits than you would really ever see in Italian cuisine. There are two types that you can find in stores, Moroccan, which is what we are preparing here, (sometimes just labelled as couscous, or as North African), or Israeli, which is small, uniform spheres, (sometimes labelled as Middle Eastern).
In Morocco, this evolved as an entire meal prepared in a special piece of equipment, called a couscousiere, (go figure!). It resembles a double boiler, with a steamer basket for the top chamber. The couscous is placed in the top part, while the meat and/or vegetables would be simmered below, creating flavorful steam that rises and cooks the side dish above. With some skill and practice, one can make an entire meal this way. Don't worry, this version does not require specialized cookware, or anywhere near the level of expertise it takes to do that!
Almost all couscous purchased off the shelves will have suggested cooking instructions printed on the container, and unfortunately, most of those are somewhat flawed in a few ways. Follow our recipe, and your finished side dish will be fluffier, lighter in texture, and more flavorful in general.
- fresh herbs - the flavor profile just bursts with brightness from these.
- chicken bouillon base - we prefer better than bouillon brand.
- extra virgin olive oil - choose one that tastes fruity, not bitter.
- couscous - see the section above for more in depth info, make sure that you're buying the smaller type for this recipe.
Step One - Chop the Herbs
Pick and chop your oregano...
And Rosemary. Mix these with the raw couscous. The box recipes will call for olive oil and/or butter to be added to the broth before boiling on the stove, whereas we suggest that you mix the oil directly into the raw product, allowing it to evenly coat better, and therefore, keep the couscous from lumping together.
Step Two - Boil Water, Combine Ingredients
This is an illustration of another way that our recipe differs from the cooking instructions found on the box. They will tell you to bring the liquid to a boil, and add the couscous directly to it. We've found that instead it makes it less prone to over cooking if you add the boiling liquid to the raw product in a bowl, cover tightly with film, and allow it to steam.
After allowing it to steam together under the plastic wrap, it's important to "fluff' it with a fork as shown, to work out any lumps that may have formed. Add the salt and pepper at this point, and you're good to go!
Cooking couscous gently is the key to success. To get the lovely fluffy and separate texture that is the hallmark of good couscous, you cannot simply boil it. No matter what the box might say, try this simple and quick steaming method for the best results.
- Vegan - simply omit the chicken bouillon, using vegetable stock or salted water instead.
This side dish is a blank slate, let your imagination guide you, try:
- Herbs - really any fresh herbs will work, try basil, parsley, or tarragon.
- Butter - can add lovely richness.
- Caramelized onion - a light amount will add a roasted sweetness.
- Dried fruit - chopped figs or dates.
What makes this fast and easy herb couscous unique as a side dish more than anything else is it's texture. It should be fluffy, separate, and light above all else. In order to get that right, it's important to "fluff" the cooked couscous when it's done cooking. Use a fork, and push it into the pile, and then pull it back out, sprinkling the pieces through to break up any lumps that may be in there.
Storage and Reheating
Couscous will stay fresh tightly sealed under refrigeration for up to 5 days. We do not recommend freezing.
When going to reheat, gentle is once again key. Wrapped in the microwave is good, to preserve the moisture. You can also heat in a covered skillet on the stove with a tiny bit of water for a few minutes.
Fast and Easy Herb Couscous
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 Mixing Bowl
- 1 Chef Knife
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 fork
- 1 Measuring cup set
- 1 Measuring Spoon Set
- 1 Plastic wrap
- 1⅓ cup water
- 1 cup dry Moroccan couscous
- 1 tbsp. chicken bouillon paste
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary stemmed and minced
- 2 tsp. fresh oregano stemmed and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
- 1½ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. black pepper freshly ground
- place couscous and herbs in mixing bowl
- add olive oil to mixing bowl, mixing together well to coat
- in saucepan, combine chicken bouillon with water
- bring saucepan contents to a full boil over high heat
- carefully pour stock over couscous
- stir through and cover tightly with plastic wrap quickly
- allow to steam covered for 15 minutes
- remove plastic, check for doneness. most often, it will be tender at this time, but due to desiccation on the shelf, it may require covering back and allowing for a few more minutes
- fluff with a fork to break up any clumps
- serve immediately