Whole Wheat Basil-Nut Couscous

Not only am I excited to be using couscous, I am excited that it comes in a whole wheat version. I continue to search for new and interesting high-fiber starches to add to our meals. I do miss pasta and white rice, but find whole wheat couscous to be a perfect replacement. It’s high-fiber but doesn’t taste like bark or twigs.

Many of you are likely couscous experts while I am a late adopter. Couscous is little bits of pasta that resemble a grain. When added to a boiled liquid and allowed to sit for 5 minutes, the couscous becomes light and fluffy. I made a wonderful recipe with it a week ago (bad photos so I didn’t post it) that I found in Joey Altman’s new cookbook, Without Reservations (lots of ideas in this book, I’ll post a full review soon). Tonight I decided to step away from the book and try my own flavor concoction.

I bought a beautiful bunch of basil over the weekend … I LOVE BASIL … and figured a bit of lemon, garlic and olive oil would go nicely with the basil and with the couscous. Since the couscous is so light, I wanted to balance it with a little crunch. Yes, I am a texture whore.

I didn’t have any pine nuts but did have sliced almonds. I toasted them up to boost their flavor and to make them good and crunchy. The outcome is a tasty little side dish that I call Basil-Nut Couscous.

Basil-Nut Couscous
1 1/2 cups water (or stock)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1 lemon’s zest and juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a saucepan and add olive oil, then garlic. Saute garlic until it begins to take on color, then add water. The pan will hiss and sizzle, but don’t be alarmed.

Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and cover pot. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. No peeking. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

Stir in zest, almonds, and basil. Add 1/2 of the lemon juice, then taste and decide if you need a bit more.

There are so many possibilities with couscous — what are your favorite ways to prepare it?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Manggy June 10, 2008, 10:28 pm

    Hey, you’re here! I thought you’d gone on vacation (did you get my e-mail?). Anyway, I’m one of those couscous idiots. The only time I’ve made it was with roasted vegetables and plenty of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. What did you have this on the side of? :)

  • Peter M June 11, 2008, 3:41 am

    Allen, this is news to me…and why not…get some fibre in the whole wheat.

    I too made some couscous last night!

  • Ben June 11, 2008, 6:03 am

    I have never tried couscous before, but I have seen many recipes around the blogosphere that use it. I need to experiment with this ingredient soon.

  • steph June 11, 2008, 8:31 am

    OK, the couscous looks great, and so easy and quick.
    Um… did you eat it hot or cold?

  • Fearless Kitchen June 11, 2008, 9:35 am

    This looks good, which is surprising to me because I’ve always had an aversion to couscous (probably just had a mediocre experience.) The basil and the nuts really do it for me!

  • Helen June 11, 2008, 9:42 am

    I too am a texture whore!! Squidgy cous cous and crunchy nuts – yummy! I actually prefer wholewheat bread, pasta etc to white now. I don’t miss it at all.

  • Patricia Scarpin June 11, 2008, 2:14 pm

    Allen, I never knew there was a whole wheat couscous. And I love the add ins here!

  • farida June 11, 2008, 7:48 pm

    I like couscous a lot. This looks like a great healthy meal!

  • Christie @ fig & cherry June 16, 2008, 12:09 am

    I LOVE cous cous too – especially at night when I’m craving pasta but want something that will be a little easier to digest. My favourite additions are semi dried tomatoes, roasted eggplant and feta. Served with grilled lamb it is a meal made in heaven!

  • abby June 21, 2008, 10:00 pm

    this looks delicious allen. i’m a big fan of barley couscous – you should try and track it down.

  • Flug New York June 23, 2008, 6:07 am

    PERFECT!! Thank you for the recipe. I served it just like you with almonds instead of pine nuts! awesome!!

  • Chef JP June 30, 2008, 9:20 am

    First time visitor to your blog— wonderful stuff!

  • Susan from Food Blogga July 1, 2008, 2:55 pm

    I love whole wheat couscous too–same delicious taste but with lots more nutritional benefits. What’s not to love?

  • Julie July 14, 2008, 4:24 pm


  • SteamyKitchen July 15, 2008, 7:19 pm

    wow, i love this photo!

  • jacoba November 27, 2008, 5:46 am

    Look, there are those that are good and then there are those that are really good.

    I think you’re the latter.
    In fact, I’m pretty sure.

  • jacoba November 27, 2008, 5:46 am

    Oh yes, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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