Smoky spices with a touch of sweetness and healthy veggies make this Spiced Israeli Couscous with Vegetables and Apricots a versatile side dish and delicious comfort food.
Israeli couscous, also referred to as Pearl couscous because of its shape, is not the same thing as traditional couscous. It’s relatively new (created in the 1950’s), it’s more substantial (much larger grains) and more chewy. Simply put, it’s a pasta. It absorbs flavours beautifully if cooked with the method in this recipe and is typically sold as toasted Israeli couscous.
Israeli couscous can be boiled like regular pasta and used in salads. This recipe, instead, blends several spices – smoked paprika, garlic, cloves and cumin – that absorb into the couscous while cooking. Combined with roasted vegetables and apricots, bright fresh chopped spinach and the richness of some butter (or olive oil if you prefer), the result is a deep, flavourful and very tasty side dish.
The dried apricots add great texture and a subtle sweetness. I’ve tried roasting them with the vegetables and boiling them with the couscous. Both ways work fine. Just be careful they don’t burn if you choose roasting (although I like a bit of char on mine).
This dish is quick to make and can easily be made a couple of hours ahead of serving. To reheat, just add a bit more broth or water and reheat covered in the microwave for about a minute. Toss then serve. It’s great paired with turkey (instead of stuffing), roast chicken, flank steak or a mild fish.
Tailor to your Tastes
- Roast other vegetables such as diced mushrooms, zucchini or red peppers instead of butternut squash.
- Play around with spices you like. For example, try coriander, curry powder, nutmeg, regular paprika, thyme, etc.
- Add some toasted almonds for crunch.
- Substitute dried cranberries for the dried apricots.
- Add some heat with sriracha if you like.
Here’s some other side dishes you might like:
Roasted Shredded Potato Crisps (get the recipe)
Pesto and Vegetable Orzo (get the recipe)
Spiralized Butternut Squash with Balsamic Butter Sauce (get the recipe)