Honest to goodness, this dish cannot be easier to pull together, and it’s a nice little flavor-bomb to throw on the side of any meal! And it comes together in 10 minutes or less!
I tried couscous for the first time about a month and a half ago. I don’t know what I was doing with my life previously or what led me down the path of No-Couscous-Until-You’re-Almost-32-Years-Old, but this is the reality of the situation.
People say that you don’t know what you’re missing ‘til you find it and Oh-Em-Gee they’re not kidding. I was missing couscous. All of these years. ALMOST-32 IS A LOT OF YEARS, PEOPLE. Let me just tell you: ignorance is not bliss. I was not better off for not eating couscous. There was a giant (not couscous shaped because couscous is small) hole in my life but now that I’ve had it, I no longer feel empty inside… because my tummy is filled with this delicious couscous concoction!
Behold: Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Couscous.
This was born out of my desire to eat all of the couscous after I tried it the first time. Once I figured out that I wasn’t going to have an issue with the texture, I knew that it’s a perfect side. You can eat it plain or you can zhuzh (yes, that’s a real word. I included the link to prove it. And I won’t even tell you how many actual minutes it took for me to figure out how to spell the word I say all the time but couldn’t sound out. #literacynow) it up and make it this totally riffable side dish for just about any theme you want.
Near East makes a rice pilaf that I’ve been eating for as long as I can remember, and I didn’t really feel like I’d been missing much, as previously discussed, but it does take at least 20 minutes. 20 minutes isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things, but 5 minutes just seems so easy that you almost feel like an idiot for not opting in to that. When you can cook something in 5 minutes instead of 25, why would you opt for the 25-minute thing? You wouldn’t. So, I haven’t. When I’d go to the store, I’d see the couscous sitting right there next to the rice pilaf and I’d just pass right by it without a second glance, but I have a girlfriend who makes couscous and I’d see her eat her leftovers at lunch and because I’m nosy and experience an absurd amount of FOMO, I finally asked about it. So, she told me I need to try it and I’m good at following directions. The rest is history. (Thanks Rhys!)
So… what is couscous?
Couscous is actually pasta, not rice. So, while I just spent, like, an entire paragraph telling you about how it’s next to the rice in the grocery store, it’s not actually rice. This type of couscous is tiny little balls made of semolina flour, and this kind is ready in 5 minutes because it has already been steamed and dried prior to it being packaged for our consumption to make it a quick and easy thing. I watched this video and saw that it can be a little more involved (steaming and fluffing twice as opposed to once – and he took out one steam & fluff from the “traditional” couscous preparation) but I think I’m gonna roll with what I’ve already got because this is way easier and sometimes I’m ok with being lazy. There’s also larger pearled couscous called Israeli couscous, which people use in salads similar to orzo. I haven’t tried that yet.
Honest to goodness, this couldn’t have been easier, and it was a nice little flavor-bomb in our dinner. Aside from chopping up the sun-dried tomatoes and green onions, this is totally a dump-and-stir sort of food, and if you ask me (and I know you are because here you are!) that’s the best kind of food.
Here’s a really important thing, though: toast your nuts. Always 👏🏻 toast 👏🏻 your 👏🏻 nuts 👏🏻. That’s for real. It just brings out this luxurious, smooth nuttiness that you just don’t get unless you toast them. So, do it. Every time.
Oh, but you gotta watch them. Because these babies burn QUICK. In fact, this photo is actually my first batch of nuts from this day because I totally burned them. I turned my back for a SECOND and before I know it, I’m standing there like Oh f*** my nuts! And sure enough they were black on one side. F-word. Learn from my mistake, because it’s sad when you have to throw these bad boys away because you got sidetracked and thought you could conquer the world with your multitasking but really you just end up burning your nuts. They’re just so yum and in this dish you get a little tiny bite of goodness in each heaping forkful you shovel into your mouth.
One more thing I wanted to tell you about this dish and another reason it’s awesome besides the fact that it tastes delish: you guys, it tastes good hot or cold. I’m so serious. You can serve this warm, room temperature or chilled. It was a great hot side dish, but it could easily pass as a “salad” if you wanted it to. I know this because in between putting the baby down for a nap and running up and down my stairs to do laundry, I decided I didn’t have time for the microwave and just dug into this from the Ziploc container it was in in the fridge for a quick bite and was like Oh shit, I almost like this better cold! So, there you have it. Versatility.
The first time I made this, I made it to be eaten alongside some steak that Jeff grilled with caramelized onions and some roasted honey balsamic brussels sprouts. And then when I ate it cold, it reminded me of a unique pasta salad that would be great for a summer party!
When you make this, let me know! Also, if you already have some favorite couscous recipes, tag me!! I love seeing what you guys make and I love finding new recipes to try!!
Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Couscous
- Toast your nuts! Place your pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat until they start turning golden brown on their flat edges. Keep an eye on them; they burn quickly! It should take just a few minutes (3-5 minutes) to get them where you want them. Once they're toasted, set them aside and keep them available to mix in.
- In a medium sauce pan, follow the instructions on the box for preparing the Near East Couscous. I prefer the parmesan flavor, but it comes in other flavors. The box boasts being able to be ready in 5 minutes. This is real life.
- Once your couscous has absorbed all the liquid in the pan, fluff your couscous with a fork.
- Add in your other ingredients: sun-dried tomatoes, feta, green onions. Salt and pepper to taste (keep in mind there's a seasoning packet in the boxed couscous). You can dress it with a touch of olive oil if you'd like.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. This can be served as a side dish or as a salad!
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