Sweet-tart cranberries combine with crunchy pepitas and fresh orange in this simple, versatile couscous dish. Serve it warm as a side dish or cold as a salad: either way, Cranberry Orange Pearl Couscous is a perfect complement to any light meal!
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This Cranberry Orange Couscous is one of our favorite sides! It’s easy to make, can be on the table in just over 30 minutes, and goes with almost anything.
Pasta or Whole Grain?
Couscous is a staple of North African cuisine. Despite its grain-like appearance, couscous is actually a pasta, made from semolina and wheat flour that has been moistened and tossed together until it forms little balls, and then precooked in steam and dried for packaging.
Couscous has slightly nutty, relatively neutral taste, making it a delicious, convenient alternative to rice, potatoes, or noodles. When cooked, couscous looks like little round pasta spheres, and has a pleasant texture and mouth feel. It is equally tasty hot or cold, making it perfect for everything from soup to salad.
There are three basic types of couscous, all based on size.
- Moroccan Couscous is the smallest variety, and the easiest to find at your local grocery store. Also known as “instant couscous,” Moroccan can be on the table in just 10 minutes, including the time it takes to boil the water.
- Israeli Couscous (also known as pearl couscous) is notably larger than Moroccan couscous, and therefore takes a little longer to cook. Pearl couscous has a more pasta-like flavor, and takes a bit longer to cook, thanks to its larger size.
- Lebanese Couscous, about the size of a fresh pea, is a Big Daddy of tiny round pasta. Also called Moghrabieh (the name of the finished traditional Lebanese dish), Lebanese Couscous is sold fresh or dried, and is most often added to as a hearty starch that can stand up in stews and braised dishes.
This Cranberry Couscous recipe calls for using Pearl Couscous (i.e., Israeli couscous); however, you can use any kind of couscous to make it: you would just need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.
Cranberry Orange Pearl CouscousPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 cup pearl couscous Israeli (5 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds pepitas; or sprouted pumpkin seeds (2.5 ounces)
- ½ cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped (2 ounces)
- ½ cup orange juice 1 medium orange
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest 1 medium orange
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes OPTIONAL
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint plus more for garnish; OPTIONAL
- Gather and prep ingredients.
- Melt butter in a large, heavy bottom skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat.
- Add the couscous to melted butter and sauté, stirring constantly, until it just begins to turn golden, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the raw pumpkin seeds to the couscous.
- Continue to stir until most of the couscous is golden brown, another 3-4 minutes
- Immediately add the chicken broth to couscous.
- Bring the couscous mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to LOW, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente. (You may need to add a little extra chicken broth; if so, do so sparingly.)Remove from heat.
- Stir in dried cranberries, orange juice, and orange zest. Add red pepper flakes at this time, if desired.
- Cover and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Season as needed with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped fresh mint. Garnish with additional fresh mint. Serve warm or cold.
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