Light lemon couscous with cilantro


A zesty couscous salad to boost your vitamin C intake

How lemon couscous came into my life. Many moons ago, I had the amazing opportunity to spend a college year abroad in France. For many reasons, this was one of the best experiences I ever had and I will be forever grateful for all the great memories I collected there. While it deepened my love for France and French culture, it also introduced me to a great dish that I had not known of before: couscous.

Although couscous is not French, but from the Maghreb region in Northern Africa, it is widely available in France, thanks to the many French of Algerian, Moroccan, or Tunisian descent. When I returned home after my year abroad, I soon began to miss couscous and was very happy to be able to find it in Middle Eastern stores here so as to recreate it at home.

Couscous is amazingly versatile. It serves as a great side dish, but you can also have it stand-alone as a small meal. You can add just about anything to it that you think might be tasty, like tomato, pepper, meat or, as in the case of this recipe, give it a lemon character.

Lemon couscous is rich in vitamin C and will give your taste buds a zesty treat. This makes it a perfect healthy and uplifting light lunch or a unique companion for grilled chicken breast.

Lemon couscous at a glance
  • Food category: Side dish
  • Servings: 2
  • Calories per serving:
  • Preparation time: 5 min (if you use instant couscous), 15 min if you cook it
  • Soaking time for the couscous: 10 min
  • Total time from start to finish: 15 min
  • 1 cup (165 grams) of (instant) couscous 
  • 1.5 cups (360 ml) of low-sodium veggie broth 
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro
  • ½ a cup of diced up artichokes
  • ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt 
  • ½ a teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes 

How to prepare lemon couscous

The first step will differ a bit, depending on the preparation instructions of the couscous grains you are using. In general, there are typically two different approaches to how to prepare the couscous. Option 1 requires you to cook the grains in a liquid, and option 2 or instant couscous entails boiling water, pouring it over the grains and letting it soak until tender. I tend to prefer the latter, as it’s more hassle-free.

Step 1: Mix the veggie broth, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and bring it to a boil. Then, add the couscous grains and either let them soak or cook them, depending on the preparation instructions provided on the package.

I always already add the salt, pepper and olive oil in this first step, as you thereby ensure that the grains are nicely infused and don’t become glued together like cement. You thus essentially ensure that you have a fluffy result.

Step 2: After the lemon couscous has sufficiently soaked, which tends to be the case after 10 minutes, the grains should have softened up and all the liquid should be gone. Now, fluff the couscous with a fork.

Step 3: Add the cilantro and artichokes to the couscous, as well as a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Voilà – your lemon couscous is ready. This is really about all there is to it, which makes this vitamin C-infused recipe not only a great and healthy side dish but also one that you can prepare without much thinking involved, a.k.a., perfect at the end of the day, when you just want to unwind and not focus too much on cooking and not risk burning anything.

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