Toast Couscous Before Cooking To Give The Dish A Nuttier Flavor

Made from semolina flour and water, couscous is a pasta eaten across the Middle East and North and West Africa. With a mild, nutty flavor, the dish is often dressed up with bold, rich spices and sauces to create dishes such as harissa sirloin steak with carrot-couscous salad. These savory additions complement couscous' own taste. To further amp up the flavor, toast couscous before cooking it.

Couscous tends to take on the taste of whatever it's cooked in, but if you want your dish to have layers of flavor, start by elevating the base. Toasting the couscous prior to cooking brings out the nuttiness within it, upgrading the entire dish as it also gives the grain a chewy, crunchy bite.

In a pan, heat up a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and add the dry couscous. Stir it around, allowing the couscous to transform from pale yellow to golden brown. Add boiling water to the couscous and fluff the pasta once it's fully absorbed.

What should you cook couscous with?

With its grassy, piquant flavor, extra virgin olive oil is perfect for toasting couscous. However, if you've ever wondered why your couscous turned out bland, it's probably because you cooked it in water. Opt for a rich broth when cooking couscous to infuse it with depth. Before making Moroccan couscous, make a vegetable broth with carrots, onions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, celery, and garlic to add a layer of earthiness and spice to the dish.

If you don't want the couscous to stand out too much, add shallots and onions to the pan a few minutes before toasting it. The aromatics deliver their pungent flavor to the pasta, transforming it with a sweet aroma as they cook down. Mix store-bought veggie broth and water to cook the couscous. Once it cools slightly, toss it with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onions, feta cheese, spinach, and a lemon-mint vinaigrette.

Or, toast your couscous with garlic and melted butter before steeping it in lamb bone broth. Grassy and savory, with sweet undertones from the vegetables, the couscous will have a deliciously slow-cooked flavor. Coat the couscous in the heady broth of the lamb juices and tomato paste and enjoy.