Couscous adds a special touch and light texture (as well as nutritional value) to many dishes. Although known as a “grain,” it is made from a grain (semolina) with water by rolling to form small pellets. It is more nutritious than dried pasta (more vitamins, less sugar) and white rice (more protein) and goes well with just about any ingredient you have at home. It is delicious on its own as a meal (as in this recipe) or as a side dish (served with fish, meat or chicken).
Traditional origins of couscous are from North Africa (mainly Morocco), but nowadays couscous is eaten everywhere in the world, and many countries have adopted couscous as part of their healthy meals and diets – such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and many other countries. There are other types of couscous in the world where it’s made with different ingredients such as cornmeal (as in Brazil), or pearl millet (as in Mali and Senegal); traditional semolina couscous is lighter in texture and flavor. The couscous often found in supermarkets (commonly known as “instant” couscous) has already been pre-steamed and dried and only takes 5 minutes to cook. It’s a versatile “grain” and its mild flavor does not compete with other ingredients, making it a friendly item to always have in your kitchen for a quick healthy meal.
About this recipe
I often make couscous because it’s quick, easy and delicious by itself (with a little salt, pepper and olive oil) or you can add any fresh ingredient and make a more elaborate side dish or a main meal with it. I first had this salmon couscous dish about 3 years ago at my friend Anailza’s house and loved it; it’s light, fresh, and nutritious and can be eaten hot or cold. I have made it often since, sometimes changing ingredients. This recipe has approximate quantities of ingredients, because there is no need for specific measurements (except in cooking the couscous itself). You can add as much or little of something listed, omit or substitute with another ingredient of your choice; you can even cook the couscous in vegetable stock instead of water. This is simply a suggested recipe, and I urge you to experiment on your own making couscous with other flavors and you too will see how easy it is to make a great nutritious meal with this simple ingredient!
Serves 4-6 people
Prep time: 10-15 min
Cook time: 5 min (couscous) + 10-15 min (salmon)
Cooking temp: 350°F/180°C (salmon)
- 1 salmon fillet
- 1 cup (173g) plain couscous (unflavored)
- 1 cup (235ml) of water
- ¼ (medium) red onion*, chopped
- 6-8 Greek Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 TBL pine nuts (slightly toasted)
- 1 TBL walnuts, chopped
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes, diced
- 2 TBL extra virgin olive oil (1 TBL for cooking couscous, 1 TBL for seasoning)
- 2 tsp parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
*Cooking tip: Soak chopped onion in water for 10 minutes to take out the “sting” so it can be eaten raw.
- Season salmon with salt and pepper and bake for 5-10 minutes in 350°F/180°C or until done to your liking. You may grill the salmon instead of baking it if you prefer.
- While the salmon is cooking, boil 1 cup (235ml) of water. Remove from heat and add couscous and 1 TBL of olive oil. Stir and cover pot. Let it rest for 5 minutes while the couscous absorbs the water. Once done, fluff couscous lightly with a fork. Set aside.
- Note: These are directions for couscous commonly found in supermarkets that have been pre-steamed and dried. If you can find authentic couscous, it takes longer to cook.
- Once the salmon is cooked, cut it into small pieces and set aside.
- Note: You can use a knife to cut or a fork to shred the salmon.
- Toast pine nuts over low heat in a skillet for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring often until light golden in color.
- In a bowl, add the salmon, chopped (and rinsed) onions, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, walnuts, parsley, and 1 TBL of olive oil. Add the couscous and lightly toss together. Season with salt and pepper, and add more olive oil if needed.
This dish is quick and healthy and can be done ahead of time. It can be served hot or cold, as a salad or as a side dish (without the salmon). Enjoy!