Toasted Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts, Parsley and Thyme

Couscous is just about the simplest side dish you can make. If you can boil water then you can make couscous. It can be customized in dozens, maybe hundreds of ways. I get amused when I walk down the aisle in the grocery story and see the section with couscous mixes. These mixes add some extra flavoring (and a heap of sodium) in exchange for doubling the cost of the base ingredient. Free yourself from the preboxed couscous mix; it’s so easy.

By the way, don’t confuse couscous with Israeli (or pearl) couscous. Couscous is made from semolina and water and, uncooked, looks a bit like course sand while Israeli couscous looks a bit like those hard white balls they decorate cakes with and is more akin to pasta. I have a recipe using Israeli couscous elsewhere on this site if you are interested.

Toasted Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts, Parsley and Thyme
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups couscous
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock (I used Swanson Unsalted Cooking Stock)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed


  1. Add stock to a saucepan and set over high heat.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the couscous, stir to coat with oil and toast the couscous until lightly browned. Stir the pan frequently; it should take 3-5 minutes to get some color on the couscous.
  3. When the stock is boiling add the toasted couscous and salt to the stock. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Allow to rest for 12-15 minutes.
  4. Wipe out the skillet, return to medium heat and add the pine nuts. Cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the prepared couscous. Add the toasted nuts and herbs. Stir in with the fork, then taste for flavor. Add salt and pepper as desired. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.

Other things you could add to your plain couscous

caramelized shallot
sauteed garlic
almost any nut – slivered almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts, pistachios
dried fruit – cherries, cranberries, chopped dates, raisins
chopped sun-dried tomatoes
finely chopped carrots or celery cooked in a bit of oil until tender
spices – curry powder, chili powder, garam masala, paprika, turmeric,
herbs – sage, rosemary, cilantro, basil
chopped scallions
lemon or lime juice added at the end is great too

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