Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots

Do you like couscous? I had a particularly good meal at a local restaurant recently that served grilled chicken with a side of couscous that had been tossed with some toasted pistachios and a little harissa. I ate every last semolina granule on my plate. Inspired, we made our own version, with pistachios and some chopped dried apricots, red onions, lemon juice, and parsley. So good! Especially with grilled chicken. It would be good with a Moroccan chicken tagine too. The dried apricots provide sparklettes of sweetness that balance well with the pistachios, lemon, and onions.

Do you have a favorite preparation of couscous? Please let us know about it in the comments.

  • Prep: 20 minutes
  • Cook: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

This recipe calls for boxed couscous that is available in most supermarkets in the U.S. This couscous is precooked semolina, which requires only minimal preparation. Cooking raw couscous is a much more involved process, which we do not cover here in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 10-ounce box of couscous, about 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios*
  • 10 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • Optional 2 teaspoons harissa, prepared or homemade (see this Paula Wolfert harissa recipe)

*If you only have access to shelled roasted pistachios, use them and skip step 2 in the method instructions.

Method

1 Place the chopped onion in a small bowl. Pour the lemon juice over the onions, set aside and let the onions soak in the lemon juice.

2 Toast the pistachios in a small pan on medium-high heat until lightly browned and fragrant. (Take care when toasting nuts, they can burn quickly if you don't pay attention!) Remove from heat and place into a small bowl to cool.

3 Put 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of salt to the water. Once the salt dissolves, stir in the couscous, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Move the pot off the hot burner and let the couscous steam, covered, for 5-6 minutes.

4 Scoop out the couscous into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Stir in the harissa, if using. Stir in the pistachios, chopped apricots and parsley. Stir in the red onion and lemon juice. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil, stir well and add salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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