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Tunisian Couscous With Vegetables

My friend Autumn taught me this recipe, a traditional Tunisian couscous main dish she learned from her Tunisian mother-in-law. It was the first time I make couscous or Tunisian food at home, and it was exceptional. The amount and variety of vegetables are so impressive that you can skip the chicken and make it vegetarian. The highlight of this dish, in my opinion, is the the use of caraway seeds along with onions and garlic. The combo was phenomenal!

The recipe was featured in an article I wrote for Today’s Dietitian Magazine on Mediterranean grains; freekeh, bulgur, couscous, and rice. There’s a lot of information on these grains in the article that I encourage you to read. I don’t want to re-write it here, plus the magazine has copy rights šŸ™‚

The only thing I want to point out here is that most couscous in the market is not a whole grain. It’s made from semolina (durum wheat) flour; not a whole grain. But, you can look a little harder, like in specialty or health food stores, and you might be able to find whole grain couscous.

I personally think that even if you don’t get whole grain couscous with this specific recipes, it’s ok. The amount of vegetables boosts the nutrient and fiber content of the meal anyways.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, 1ā„2-inch diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb skinless chicken breasts, 1ā„2-inch diced
  • 4 tsp caraway powder, separated
  • 1ā„2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups baby carrots, cut into thick slices
  • Half a small head of green cabbage, cut into 1ā„2-inch pieces
  • 2 zucchinis or squash, cut into 1ā„2-inch pieces
  • 1 green sweet bell pepper, cut into 1ā„2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups dry plain couscous, cooked according to package instructions

Heat oil in a large saucepan. SautƩ onions and garlic until clear. Add chicken, 3 tsp of caraway, salt, and pepper and cook until juices run clear. Add enough water to cover chicken (about 6 to 8 cups) and simmer for 15 minutes until chicken is fully cooked.

Add tomato paste, chickpeas, and raisins. Cook for 15 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and remaining teaspoon caraway and simmer for another 15 minutes until cooked through.

To serve, arrange couscous in the bottom of individual bowls, then top with the vegetable and meat sauce.

Coming up next:

How many different ways can you use olive oil?

The Mediterranean diet is famous for being rich in olive oil, but how do Mediterraneans use it? I’m working on putting together the 10 different ways to use olive oil in your diet. I don’t really have ten different ways just yet–I’m working on it. That will be my challenge for Wednesday, so stay tuned!

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Nicole, RD June 21, 2010, 10:09 am

    I think I remember seeing that recipe! And you wrote the article?! How neat!! Congrats! And it looks WONDERFUL! I use olive oil in anything and everything that’s not a sweet or neutral baked good.

  • Georgie Fear June 21, 2010, 11:48 am

    I remember seeing it too! Congrats!

    When I am baking bars and sometimes it’s hard to spread in the pan, I dip my fingers (or a rubber spatula) in olive oil to pat it down. It keeps the dough from sticking to my hand.

    Also, I use olive oil spray to make baklava. It’s easier, faster, and healthier than brushing with butter, and you don’t have the rip-out-my-hair frustration of tearing the fragile phyllo.

    Georgie Fear RD

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD June 22, 2010, 3:23 am

    Nicole: Thanks for the sweet comments. Glad to hear you caught the article. Freelance writing is the other thing I’m trying to get better at. Thanks for the olive oil comments, I do use it in some desserts, will talk about it tomorrow.

    Georgie: Thanks for the sweet comments too. Thanks for the olive oil comments. I’ve never actually made baklava… I guess it’s super readily available in Jordan, and I buy some every summer when I come to visit my family. But I think your way is much healthier than the butter-coated ones stores make!

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