Autumn Main Dishes Meals Platters Recipes Seasons Winter

North African Spiced Winter Vegetable Couscous

July 27, 2020

Couscous is often mistakenly thought of as a grain but it is tiny balls made of semolina, which is a type of hard wheat flour; in effect, it’s tiny pasta. The couscous you buy in the supermarkets has been pre-steamed so is very quick to make. In this recipe, saffron threads are added to the couscous before the hot vegetable stock is poured over, adding colour and flavour. Making the perfect bed for spiced winter roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Add a spoonful of yoghurt together with the harissa on the side for even more authentic North African flavour.


(Serves 4)

2 cinnamon sticks

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp dried chilli flakes

salt flakes

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 med parsnips, cut into large chunks

4 med carrots, diagonally cut into halves

½ kg pumpkin, peeled & cut into large chunks

1 red onion, peeled & thickly sliced lengthways

1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, rinsed under cold water

170 g couscous

pinch saffron threads

250 ml hot vegetable stock

1 tbsp butter

1 piece preserved lemon, rinsed & finely sliced

¼ cup dried sour cherries or currants (optional)

1 cup fresh coriander leaves

harissa, to serve (a Tunisian hot chilli paste)


  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C.
  2. Place all the spices except the saffron threads with a little salt flakes in a large bowl together with the extra virgin olive oil and toss through the prepared parsnips, carrots, pumpkin and red onion to coat.
  3. Transfer to a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.
  4. Toss through the chickpeas and roast another 15 minutes.
  5. While the vegetables and chickpeas are roasting, put the couscous and saffron in a bowl with a little salt flakes and pour over the hot stock. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir the butter through the couscous with a fork to fluff up.
  7. Serve the roasted vegetables and chickpeas on top of the couscous and garnish with the dried sour cherries, preserved lemon and coriander leaves.

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