Couscous makes a great stuffing ingredient. (Photo: Martin Turzak/Shutterstock)

How to cook couscous in 10 surprisingly delicious ways

From side dish to main course, couscous takes center stage in these enticing recipes.

Couscous is a traditional North African food made of semolina that’s become a popular ingredient in many culinary cultures. When considering how to cook couscous, it should be noted that the traditional version differs from Israeli couscous, or ptitim. Ptitim is larger in size than traditional couscous and is toasted, giving it a nutty flavor. The two aren’t always interchangeable, so when cooking couscous, make sure to choose the right variety for your recipe.

Couscous can be served as a simple side dish, much like pasta, rice or potatoes, but it can also be used in many deliciously surprising ways you may not have thought of. Try preparing couscous using one of these recipes.

Honeyed couscous pudding: Fans of rice pudding should try this version that uses couscous and pitted dates instead of rice and raisins. It’s sweetened with honey and topped with pistachios.

Couscous for breakfastCouscous is similar to porridge – get creative with what you mix in for this breakfast treat! (Photo: SEAGULL_L/Shutterstock)

Breakfast couscous with dried fruit compote: Start your day with couscous prepared like oatmeal and topped with compote that uses dried fruits and black tea.

Israeli couscous and tomato salad with arugula pesto: Substantial enough for a vegetarian main course, this salad can be made with several different colors of tomatoes to brighten things up. For extra presentation points, try serving a scoop of the couscous salad over a bed of arugula or mixed greens.

Couscous flatbreads: Couscous used along with flour will give flatbread a distinct flavor. The finished flatbreads can be topped with a variety of vegetables and cheeses to be cooked like a pizza.

Couscous muffinsCouscous muffins are a clever, bite-sized take on the savory dish. (Photo: Butaris/Flickr)

Spicy couscous muffins: Have you ever considered putting chili powder, cheese and caramelized onions in a muffin? Why not? If you’re making a savory muffin with couscous, those ingredients make perfect sense.

Lemony chicken soup with pearl pasta, peas & arugula: This dish is similar to the common chicken and orzo soup, but substitutes Israeli couscous (referred to as pearl pasta) for orzo. It's a healthier substitute for canned chicken soup and a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken.

Chorizo, beef and couscous stuffed peppers: Couscous makes a great stuffing mix for all sorts of vegetables like zucchini or peppers. In this recipe, it's mixed with onions, carrots, garlic and chorizo, stuffed inside red bell peppers and cooked in a smoky sauce.

Couscous fritters with feta: Savory ingredients like tomatoes, spring (green) onions and feta cheese are combined with couscous, formed into patties, then fried until golden.

Ginger soy Israeli couscous with baby bok choy: Israeli couscous meats Asian flavor in this recipe that creates a savory, rich broth reminiscent of store-bought Ramen, but with ingredients that aren't nearly as scary as those is in the mystery packet of Ramen flavoring.

And last but not least, here’s a nutritious way to expand a baby’s palate: Make your own baby food using cooked couscous blended with vegetables.

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