Do you ever wonder what are you going to make for lunch. This recipe is great for meal prep and tastes even better as the week goes on. Read on to learn more about this Mediterranean Chickpea and Couscous Salad for your kidney-friendly lunch prep.
What is Couscous?
Couscous is a type of small, granular pasta made from crushed durum wheat semolina. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and is popular in many dishes globally. Couscous is known for its quick preparation, making it a convenient, versatile, and healthy ingredient in an array of recipes.
Benefits of Using Couscous
- Quick and Easy to Prepare: Couscous is easy and quick to cook. It involves adding boiling water or broth to steam, making it a time-saving option for busy cooks!
- Nutrient-Rich: Couscous is a good source of several essential nutrients, including carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. It is also satiating due to its fiber content, being a more consistent and sustained energy source.
- Source of Plant-Based Protein: Couscous is a good source of protein (although not a complete protein), containing a cooked weight of 7 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Healthier Alternative to White Rice: Couscous offers a higher protein content and a greater supply of vitamins and minerals than an equal serving size of white rice.
- Versatile: Couscous can be used in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. It can be used as a base for salads, stews, side dishes, or served as a dessert with fruits.
Nutrition Information for Couscous
Nutrition Information of Couscous (an 80g cooked portion provides):
- Calories: 142 Kcal
- Carbohydrates: 30 grams
- Protein: 5.8 grams
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
- Fat: 0.8 grams
- Potassium: 123 mg
- Selenium: 2.4 mcg
- Phosphorus: 103 mg
How To Prepare Couscous
Preparing couscous is quick and easy. Basic steps for cooking couscous involve the following:
- Boil Water or Broth: Measure the amount of couscous you want to prepare and boil an equal amount of water or broth.
- Pour Liquid Over Couscous: Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water or broth over the couscous. The liquid should cover the couscous by about half an inch.
- Cover and Let Steam: Immediately cover the bowl with a lid to trap steam. Allow to steam for about 5 minutes. During this time, the couscous will absorb the liquid and swell.
- Fluff with a Fork: After 5 minutes, remove the lid. Use a fork to fluff the couscous, separating the grains and breaking up clumps. If desired, add a drizzle of olive oil and gently stir it in for added flavour and moisture.
- Serve: Couscous is now ready to serve as a side dish, in salads, or as a base for various dishes. It pairs well with vegetables, proteins, and sauces.
The key to preparing couscous is the correct ratio of liquid to couscous and allowing it to steam and absorb the liquid. Adjust the recipe according to the quantity and specific flavour profiles desired for the dish.
Ways To Enjoy Couscous
Couscous can be used in a variety of dishes and cuisines, these can include:
- Couscous can be mixed with various vegetables, legumes, proteins (such as grilled chicken or chickpeas), and herbs for a salad or side dish. This adds more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your meal while increasing its flavor and variety!
- Couscous can be used as a filling for stuffed vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, or zucchini. Mix with herbs, spices, and other vegetables for a more flavorful stuffing.
- Add cooked couscous to soups for extra texture and heartiness.
- Use couscous as a base for stir-fries with vegetables, protein, and seasonings.
- Couscous can be served as part of a Mediterranean mezze platter with falafel, olives, tzatziki, and pita bread.
Flavouring Chickpeas and Couscous
Couscous can be flavoured to enhance its taste and make it more appealing to suit your preferences. Ideas for adding flavour to couscous include:
- Cook in vegetable, chicken, or beef broth instead of plain water.
- Chop and mix in fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, or dill after fluffing the cooked couscous.
- Add lemon or lime juice for a tangy flavour to your couscous.
- Spices and seasonings like cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, or cinnamon can add bursts of flavour. Toast the spices in olive oil before adding liquid to release its flavour.
- Toasted nuts (such as almonds, pine nuts, or pistachios) and dried fruits (like raisins, currants, or apricots) can add sweetness and crunch to the couscous.
- Sauté minced garlic and onions in olive oil until golden, then mix into the couscous.
- Sauté vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms with garlic and herbs, then mix into the couscous.
- Remember to taste as you go and adjust the flavouring to your liking as well as to compliment the rest of your meal!
- Enjoy a chickpea and couscous salad like the one below.
Mediterranean Chickpea and Couscous Salad
- 1 cup Couscous, dry
- 2 cup Vegetable broth, low sodium
- 2 cup Cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup Grape tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup Red onion, chopped
- 1 cup Bell pepper, orange, chopped
- 2 cup Arugula
- 2 cup Chickpea, canned, no added salt drained
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 2 TBSP Lemon juice
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 2 TBSP Oregano, dried
- 2 tsp Black pepper
- In a small pot, cook couscous with vegetable broth as directed on package. Once cooked set aside to cool.
- While couscous is cooling, wash and chop the vegetables and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together. Divide into 4 small meal prep containers.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander.
- Divide the couscous equally among 4 medium meal prep containers. Then divide the chopped vegetables and chickpeas into the containers evenly.
- When ready to enjoy, add the dressing to bowls and mix well before eating.
This article was written by Neha Dewan, Nutrition Student Volunteer.
This article was reviewed by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN.