When I was a kid, there was always a box of couscous in my family’s pantry. When we were stumped about what to eat for lunch or dinner, and sometimes even breakfast, out came the couscous. I remember even at eight or nine years old I would make it for myself, stirring in some butter and a dash of salt for extra flavor. Although it was hardly haute cuisine, ready in five minutes just like the label on front said, it was the food of luxury and accomplishment to my young gastronomical self.
All these years later, couscous still holds that place in my heart as the go to item when time and energy are in short supply but my tastebuds are thinking large. I might dress it up now using spices and chopped seasonal vegetables, but rarely do I ever get terribly complicated with it. Plus, it still feels fancy regardless of the minimal effort it takes to prepare.
In that spirit, here are nine couscous recipes that are hearty enough to eat for a meal. And even better, they all can be be made using just one pot, making clean up all the easier, too.
1. Campfire Couscous with Zucchini and Pine Nuts
As its name suggests, this recipe is so free of fuss you could even prepare it over a campfire. That doesn’t mean that it’s plain and simple, however. Zucchini, pine nuts, thyme, and currant offer plenty to savor. Get our Campfire Couscous with Zucchini and Pine Nuts recipe.
2. Browned Butternut Squash Couscous
Tender, gently sautéed butternut squash creates a sweet accent in this otherwise savory couscous. Almonds provide extra crunch while cumin underlines the whole dish with its earthy aroma. Get our Browned Butternut Squash Couscous recipe.
3. Spanishy Couscous Salad
Sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, and piquillo peppers are used in this recipe to create a dressing that evokes the flavors of Spain. We’d recommend using your best olive oil to finish this one off. Get our Spanishy Couscous Salad recipe.
4. Warm Couscous Salad With Salmon and Mustard-Dill Dressing
With salmon, spinach, and a burst of fresh dill, this complete meal is practically the poster child for healthy, tasty, and simple cooking. Get the recipe here.
5. One Pot Couscous with Shrimp and Peas
Here’s a recipe that’s fully loaded: packed with shrimp, peas, pistachios, and a generous dash of seasonings, it proves that couscous can go well beyond the basics. Get the recipe here.
6. One Pot Moroccan Chicken and Chickpeas with Pistachio Couscous and Goat Cheese.
Saucy, spicy, and a little bit sweet, this recipe uses its lengthy list of ingredients towards building complexity. It all comes together quickly, however, melding into a stew with satisfying results. Get the recipe here.
7. Chicken and Swiss Chard with Couscous in Brodo
It’s chicken noodle soup with a twist: instead of slurpable noodles, this recipe draws attention to Israeli couscous’s delightful chewiness, while chard and dill bring a welcome streak of green. Get the recipe here.
8. Couscous, Spiced Chickpea, Mint, and Pomegranate Salad
For lovers of crunch, this one mixes almonds, pomegranate seeds, and lightly crisped chickpeas into fluffy fine couscous. Get the recipe here.
9. Israeli Couscous and Green Lentil Salad
Couscous and lentils provide a steady, hearty base that supports the bright and lively flavors of this salad. With kalamata olives, feta, and dashes of mustard and balsamic, it’s the sort of vibrant dish that’s perfect for a warm weather lunch. Get the recipe here.
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.