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finished pearl couscous and vegetables in bowl
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4.69 from 16 votes

Pearl Couscous Recipe with Vegetables and Apricots

Smoky spices with a touch of sweetness and healthy veggies make this pearl couscous recipe with vegetables and apricots a versatile side dish and delicious comfort food.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Servings (change as needed): 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

Roast vegetables, Note 1

  • 1 cup diced onions, 1/4 inch (red onion or white)
  • 2 cups spiralized/diced butternut squash (or mushrooms or bell pepper or combo)
  • 10-15 dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

Couscous

  • 2 tablespoon butter (or oil)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon minced or grated garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup toasted Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450F/232C.
  • ROAST VEGETABLES & APRICOTS: Place onions, butternut squash (or mushrooms/red peppers) on a pan lined with foil and sprayed with oil. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize to a golden brown.
  • MAKE COUSCOUS: While veggies are roasting, place butter in medium saucepan on medium-high heat. When butter melts, add smoked paprika, garlic, cloves, cumin, sriracha. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add couscous and apricots. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 9-10 minutes or until couscous is soft (but still a bit chewy) and most of broth is absorbed (the remaining broth will absorb as it sits). If broth absorbs before couscous is cooked, add a bit more broth or water and continue cooking for another minute or two.
  • ASSEMBLE: Add vegetables, apricots and chopped spinach to couscous. Stir well until spinach wilts, about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately or set aside and then warm in microwave for a minute before serving.

Notes

  1. Variations and Substitutions
    • Couscous:
      • For this dish, don't use traditional couscous - only pearl or Israeli
      • You can, however, substitute with orzo or acini de pepe pasta if you can't find pearl couscous
    • Vegetables:
      • Roast other vegetables such as diced mushrooms, zucchini or red peppers instead of butternut squash.
    • Spices and seasoning
      • Play around with spices you like. For example, try coriander, curry powder, nutmeg, regular paprika, thyme, etc.
      • And add some heat with sriracha or red chili flakes if you like.
      • Lemon zest or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice will add some bright flavors as will lots of fresh herbs.
    • Add-ins
      • Sprinkle the finished dish with toasted almonds, pine nuts or other nuts for crunch.
      • Substitute dried cranberries or golden raisins for the dried apricots. These can be added while the couscous is cooking (not roasted)
  2. Make Ahead:
    • The couscous 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.
 
Nutrition values are estimates.
Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 544mg | Potassium: 832mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 10259IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 2mg