Winter Couscous

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This recipe, from the famed chef and London restaurant owner Yotam Ottolenghi, has a long list of ingredients, but it's easy to make and oh, so delicious. It warms body and soul.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Medium - experience needed
Serves: 4-6

Dietary guidance: v n 

Tags: salad · main · winter · vegetables · squash · couscous ·


2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
8 shallots, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp good quality robust olive oil
sea salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp hot or sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 1/2 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 cup chickpeas (canned is fine)
1 1/2 cups chickpea liquid (from can or from cooking liquid if you use fresh)
1 cup couscous
large pinch of saffron
1 cup boiling vegetable stock (we like Pacific brand organic)
3 tbsp butter broken into pieces
2 tbsp Harissa (a moroccan sauce, either spicy or mild)
1 oz preserved lemon, finely chopped (you can substitute strips of fresh lemon rind finely chopped or 2 oz of lemon zest, as preserved are hard to find)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place carrots, parsnips, shallots in a large ovenproof dish. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, turmeric, ginger, paprika, chile flakes, 4 tblsp of the olive oil, 3/4 tsp salt. Mix well, cook in oven for 15 minutes.

Add squash, stir and return to oven; cook for 35 minutes then remove from oven. Vegetables should be soft, yet have a little body (not mushy). Add dried apricots, chickpeas and chickpea liquid. Return to oven and cook 10 minutes.

Half-way through the cooking of your vegetables (step 2 when the squash was added), put couscous in a large heatproof glass bowl with remaining 1 tblsp olive oil, saffron, and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Pour boiling water over couscous. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes. Then add butter and fluff up with a fork until the butter is melted in. Cover again and leave in a warm place (on the counter near the stove is fine).

To serve, spoon couscous into a bowl or deep plate. Stir in the harissa and preserved lemon (or rind or zest). Taste at this point and add salt if needed. Spoon vegetables on top and garnish with cilantro leaves.


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