Jewelled Couscous

A treasure trove of nutritional jewels intermingles in a fluffy cloud of wheat granules …

This is jeweled couscous. With jewels made of nutrient-packed veggies, fruits and nuts, this tasty dish is sure to become a family favorite in no time at all. Simple to make and easily adaptable, it is no wonder that this dish is rising in popularity around the world.

What Is Couscous

A popular alternative to pasta and rice, couscous consists of several tiny granules of steamed and dried durum wheat. It has a slightly bland flavor and a light fluffy texture and is known for soaking up the flavors of the other ingredients in a dish.

Origin & Spread

Couscous originated in North Africa and is a staple ingredient of that areas’ diet. From the Berber work k’seksu, couscous became an iconic food of northern Africa for cultural as well as dietary reasons.

The national dish of the countries of Maghrib — Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria — couscous provided an inexpensive and highly nutritious food that was able to be preserved for long periods of time. Moreover, with a rudimentary cooking system, this versatile food can be prepared as a main course or a quick snack, an everyday meal or luxury feast.

Couscous spread from this region into the Iberian Peninsula with the Berber dynasties of the thirteenth century. The Moors of this area elevated the popularity of the dish and it spread into Arabic countries. African slaves brought the dish with them into Brazil in the sixteenth century and eventually to the New World. Today, couscous is a popular dietary staple in nearly every country of the world.

Religious & Symbolic Meanings

The various cultures and people that prepared Couscous often held a special place for the dish in their religious rights and traditions. African women often prepared couscous to celebrate the growth of the family through marriage or new birth.

This association of the dish with these festivities also conveys a concept of God’s blessing, fidelity, abundance and fertility to the simple grain that many cultures have embraced with tradition bordering on superstition. In fact, in one culture, women preparing couscous are required to discuss and consider positive feelings, prosperity and success thereby making an invocation for God’s blessing.

Recipe & Preparation

This recipe for Jeweled Couscous comes from Good Food magazine and serves eight people. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to prepare and is a simple recipe that almost anyone can make.

Ingredients

  • 400 grams of couscous
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon-infused oil
  • 500 grams of chopped dried apricot
  • 1 deseeded and chopped cucumber
  • 1 deseeded and chopped large yellow bell pepper
  • 140 grams of chopped pitted black olives
  • 140 grams of chopped sundried tomato
  • 12 halved cherry tomatoes
  • Chopped parsley

Preparation

To begin, place the couscous into a bowl and cover it with roughly 700 milliliters of boiling water. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it for about 10 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous. Once the couscous is ready, pour the oil over it and add a little parsley. Mix it all together and use a fork to fluff up the couscous. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients and serve.

Variations

There are a number of items which can be added to jeweled couscous to make variations that are more unique or to include meat. However, part of the popularity of couscous in recent years has been the plethora of vegetarian options possible with the versatile dish. The jewels of this salad — the nuts, veggies, fruits, seeds, etc. — can be swapped out and interchanged to make the suit any need.

Couscous has long been a staple of many cultures that often represents more than just a delicious meal. This unique vegetarian dish is an ideal twist on traditional pasta or rice-based dishes and provides a delicious alternative to less healthy options.

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