Couscous with Preserved Lemon is my new favorite side dish, and I predict when you taste it, it will become yours too!
Couscous with Preserved Lemon is a luscious, lemony, pasta side dish full of crunchy pistachios, bits of dried apricots, fresh parsley and the star of the show – preserved lemons. My husband loves it as much as I do and I know your family will too! And a bonus, it only takes 15 minutes to prepare!
In case you are not familiar with couscous, it is actually a type of pasta. Couscous comes in two different sizes: Israeli Couscous, which is the larger of the two; and Moroccan Couscous, which is about three times the size of a grain of cornmeal. Couscous, like all pasta, has a mild flavor and is most like orzo. In fact, you could substitute orzo for most recipes calling for couscous and vice versa.
The other star of this dish is preserved lemon. If you have never used preserved lemons in your cooking, you are in for a treat. Think about the wonderful flavor that lemon or citrus zest brings to a dish and multiply it by 100! Preserving lemons brings out their lemony essence, and you can use them in almost any recipe in which you would be adding lemon zest or juice to heighten and brighten the flavor. Preserved Lemons have been used for centuries in Indian and North African cuisine, and are an essential ingredient in Couscous with Preserved Lemons. Once you try them, I can promise you they will become an essential ingredient in your dishes and deserve a place of honor in your kitchen.
You can buy preserved lemons in specialty food shops, or you can order them online. Or, you can make them yourself. It’s really easy and if you would like to make them, check out my post: How to Make Preserved Lemons. I was very fortunate this year to have several friends with Meyer Lemon Trees who gave me lemons which I used to make my preserved lemons. It’s a crucial ingredient in this delicious side dish Couscous with Preserved Lemons.
I first made this dish several months ago for a meeting of a cookbook club of which I am a member. We were cooking from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen Cookbook. Since then, I have made it several times, each time changing it up just a bit. You can substitute any of the ingredients except the preserved lemon, which is essential, and tailor it to your family’s taste. For example, you could use orzo pasta instead of the couscous, you could use almonds or roasted pecans instead of pistachios which can be pricey, and you could substitute any dried fruit or raisins for the dried apricots. But no matter which combination of ingredients you choose, I hope you will try this delicious recipe!
When you are ready to prepare Couscous with Preserved Lemon, cook the couscous according to the directions on the package.
While the couscous is cooking, finely dice the preserved lemon peel and pulp.
Add the lemon to a large bowl along with the parsley, butter, chopped apricots, pistachios, pepper, and cinnamon.
When the couscous is done, drain if necessary and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately.
I served this delicious side dish with Herb Crusted Roasted Pork Tenderloin and the entire meal was on the table in under 30 minutes.
*Notes: you can substitute orzo pasta or Morrocan couscous for the Israeli couscous. You can also substitute roasted pine nuts, pecans, almonds, etc. for the pistachios and you can substitute any dried fruit or combination of dried fruit for the dried apricots.