Despite popular belief that couscous is a type of whole grain (it does have a rice-like appearance), it is actually a pasta made of semolina. Cous-cous can be paired with numerous dishes, such as salads, meat or seafood. It is versatile, filling and downright delicious. It absorbs flavours very well so combining it with different sauces can make for tasty dishes. It is a blank canvas for bold flavours.
Here’s how to cook cous-cous well:
Cooking couscous is as easy as making a cup of tea, but there are a few secrets to getting it perfectly fluffy:
- Don’t add too much liquid – as a guide, it’s the same volume of liquid as it is to couscous.
- Don’t leave it for too long to clump. As soon as the couscous has soaked up the hot liquid, fluff it up to separate the grains.
- You can toss the uncooked couscous in a drizzle of oil before adding the liquid, which coats each grain in oil and helps them stay separate. Alternatively, add a drizzle of oil as you fluff up the grains.
- Use a fork to fluff the couscous – stirring it with a spoon can make it go clumpy.
- Giant couscous isn’t meant to be fluffy, but you do want the balls to separate, so boil them like pasta and then toss in oil or butter to stop them sticking.
Prep: 10 mins
- 200g couscous
- 200ml kettle-hot water or boiling vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Tip the couscous into a heatproof bowl and pour over the water or stock.
- Cover with cling film or a lid and leave for 5-10 mins until the couscous is soft.
- Fluff the couscous up with a fork, drizzling with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper if you like. The couscous is now ready to serve or use.
Here’s a recipe suggestion for cous-cous:
Chicken and cous-cous one pot
- 8 skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 500ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
- large handful whole green olives
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 250g couscous
- small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- STEP 1
Toss the chicken thighs in half the spices and a pinch of salt until completely coated. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan with a lid. Fry chicken, skin-side down, for 10 mins until golden brown, turn over, then cook for 2 mins before removing from the pan. Pour the rest of the oil into the pan, then fry the onions and garlic for 8 mins until golden. Stir in the rest of the spices, then cook for 1 min longer. Pour over the chicken stock and scatter in the olives. Bring everything to the boil, turn down the heat, then sit the chicken, skinside up, in the stock.
- STEP 2
Cover the pan with a lid, then simmer gently for 35-40 mins until the chicken is tender. Put the kettle on, then lift the chicken onto a plate and keep warm. Take the pan off the heat. Stir the lemon juice and couscous into the saucy onions in the pan and top up with enough boiling water just to cover the couscous if you need to. Place the lid back on the pan, then leave to stand for 5 mins until the couscous is cooked through. Fluff through half the parsley and the lemon zest, then sit the chicken on top. Scatter with the rest of the parsley and zest before serving.
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