Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots

Side DishMiddle EasternVeganCouscous

A Moroccan-inspired couscous side with pistachios and dried apricots

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

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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.

Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots

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

Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 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.


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 10-ounce box of couscous, about 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin 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.


1 Soak chopped onion in lemon juice: 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 pistachios: 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 Cook the couscous: 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 Combine ingredients to make salad: 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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Cherry Tomato Couscous, from 101 Cookbooks

Couscous with Chickpeas, Fennel and Citrus, from The Kitchn

Lemony Saffron Couscous, from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

30 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Tracey

    Yum!! A great couscous recipe. As I was serving it Ras el Hanout chicken, I sprinkled some of this spice in, too. Will DEFINITELY make again!!


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  2. Amy

    Made this today! It’s so yummy. Not really a fan of apricots,but tasted good in the recipe.


  3. Shirley

    I once tried the boxed couscous after tasting the Israeli couscous. Wow, I’d never buy the boxed stuff again. The taste difference is amazing with that nutty and chewy flavor. The only preparation difference is that you cook the Israeli couscous a little longer. It is now available in most grocery stores and I love the larger little pearls. I use it in salads where I first encountered it in a huge store in Houston, TX.

  4. Rachel Frantz

    I would substitute the pistachios with sunflower and/or sesame seeds and the apricots with ground lamb and/or beef (or small cubes) sautéed in garlic oil with black pepper and cumin. I would reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon. I would also brown half a small yellow onion in butter in the pan I before adding the water for the couscous. Serve the meat over the couscous.

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  5. Chantel

    Elise, do you chop up your pistachios for this dish? Or just leave them whole?

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