Moroccan Couscous Salad

French Fridays with Dorie

moroccan couscous salad

Truth time: my pantry is a disaster.

My teeny tiny kitchen cabinet is more like an orphanage for never-to-be used again ingredients than a place to store the most-commonly-used food ingredients. Disordered shelves are jam packed with former ‘exotic all-stars’ now rendered useless as the odds got ever slimmer I would ever make the recipe I purchased them for again. Whether or not I even have enough of whatever it was to make another go of the recipe I will still keep its remnants.

Why do I do this? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I do things like that.

Shelves and shelves of stuff I will never use again!

If ever I do feel the call to use these ingredients again its a safe bet the impulse will not come while they are still edible. As I look at this crap, I see I should have thrown them out months ago. Clearly my people’s hoarding instinct is just too strong. This desire to hold onto tiny bits of pantry foodstuffs may have been a distinct evolutionary advantage during the Paleolithic era. In this era, it only serves to annoy he who would prefer I keep a “minimalist kitchen” — one with only a single variety of salt thankyouverymuch.

I have to imagine that somewhere in my ancestral past there were one or two very clever hunter-gatherer types. They managed to survive the harsh winter due solely to the small baggy containing three tablespoons of dried cherries and an opened box containing a quarter cup of stale rotini had squirreled away.

It must have been these fortunate genes that survived into the millennium and then produced me while those of other more minimalist cave men perished along the way.

Of the six shelves available for me to store the many useful items I could need at a moment’s notice all but one contains anything useful. This shelf, shelf number six, is of course reserved for liquor – and everyone knows there is no such thing as liquor that won’t be used later. But let’s get back to the other five:

A “flash inventory” of my current pantry situation reveals a bounty of already opened boxes of pasta, each one filled with exactly not enough for any one single entree. I see several tiny bags of dried this-and-thats, most several months beyond their visual recognition date; three cans of protein powder leftover from three diet fads ago, raw almonds, six small bags of assorted and very unusable non-wheat flours, roasted almonds, vacuum packed chestnuts for that soup I was going to make again at Christmas, blanched almonds, two boxes of bullion cubes, jars of exotic spice blends with unpronounceable names, unused vinegar flavors (coconut?), slivered almonds, 4 room service ketchups I’m saving even though I have a bottle in the fridge, a box of brown sugar that can be used to anchor a boat and way WAY too many cans of beans.

moroccan couscous salad

This begs the question: Why do I buy cans of beans each time I go to the market?

So to get to the point, and the point being this Moroccan couscous salad. I’m always on the lookout for recipes that will use up some if not all of my motley collection of useless stuff and this one fits the bill perfectly.

Even better, this Dorie Greenspan Moroccan Couscous Salad is just what I was looking for to be a ‘soft landing’ back into the Dorie-sphere following a many months long nap. The old cooking and blogging skills still feel a bit rusty, and the prospect of making up so many dishes still feels daunting. Please forgive me if I just want to pick off a few easy ones first.

I think I could make this even while sleeping. Maybe Dorie wrote it while she was sleeping? It is just that easy to make.

Please don’t expect me to remember the real reason I chose it for now. Just know it is a keeper. Not solely due to its ease of preparation but because it is another non-recipe recipe. The kind of dish that lets you re-purpose whatever odds and ends you have in your crisper and pantry and then present to the table as a richly beautiful finished dish.

Moroccan Couscous Salad

I had three partially used bags of couscous, a bag of raisins and few tablespoons of zante currents when I started this recipe. Now I have none! Success! Minimalist pantry here I come!

Moroccan Couscous Salad

Moroccan Couscous Salad

This is what you will need:

  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 10-ounce box plain couscous
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green beans or trimmed sugar snap peas
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

This is how you make it:

  1. In a 2 quart saucepan bring chicken broth, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin to boil. Stir in couscous and raisins, cover and remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove cover and fluff couscous with fork to break up any lumps.
  3. Pour couscous into a large bow and add chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, green beans, and lemon peel.
  4. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to couscous; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Can be made ahead one day. Will keep for several however in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Now does anyone have a recipe that will use up some of the gallon sized bag of dried Vietnamese peppers I just found? Was I drunk when I bought these?

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. I was quite fond of this salad, too. And I didn’t have to share it with anyone (not that anyone else around here would have fought me for a bite!). Glad you gained a few square inches back in your pantry–I think all us foodies have this same dilemma despite the size of our storage areas 🙂

  2. I am a minimalist who lives with collectors… They bring in… I throw out, or donate to the local food pantry. I can only say one thing in regards to your pantry: make soup or a hell of a lot of Three Bean Salad.
    Glad to see you back on our radar… you were missed.

    • My guy does the same thing but he has learned to leave the pantry alone. There is no wrath like the wrath of a chef looking for his tube of anchovy paste that has been there for years “all of a sudden” go missing at the precise moment you need it.

  3. Michelle Sharpe says:

    OMG I love this post. Story of my life, especially the several boxes of open pasta. And the bullion cubes. And currants. We are doing a kitchen remodel., to be preceded by tenting the house, so everything in the kitchen has to be cleaned out. I did the pantry a couple days ago and this post described my experience! I ended up throwing out two giant trash bags of previously crucial ingredients, many of which had clearly outstayed their welcome. Thanks for the morning laugh xoxo

  4. Are we kindred spirits? Just this past week I tossed an 18-year-old partial bottle of Thyme. It had a $1 price tag on in from Shop-Rite, which means I bought it from the discount rack in Manahawkin, NJ some time in the mid-90s. That bottle had moved halfway across the country and sat in no fewer than four pantries and a couple of drawers. It was sort of sad seeing it there in the recycle bin.

  5. Oh keep your brown sugar anchor! I think you’re supposed to do something with a damp tea-towel that makes it yield to a spoon. But who am I to talk: I have a tube of garlic paste in my cupboard that I’m frightened to open and too frightened to put in the bin in case it explodes and asphyxiates the garbage men. I might just have to bury it.

  6. Yummy! and the jadeite!

  7. Mary Hirsch says:

    After reading your Post, laughing and enjoying it so much, I am sad I’ve missed out on 9months of TK. Very, very good (Not as good as your Valentine Post of years ago, however. That will always be my all-time favorite in a twisted way, of course.) I remember making this and liking it. You have every bean known to man because every article about stocking your kitchen says to have beans on hand. I always have beans on hand up to their expiration date and then I toss them and buy more beans to have on hand. This year I had a new strategy. I brought everything I hadn’t used, opened, or did not know why I purchased, with me to Cali. My goal, use it or leave it. Whoever rents this house after I leave will be very, very lucky or not, take your choice. I noticed and liked the Jadeite also. Those babies are precious.

    • I will never live down that V-day post will I Mary? I never thought about leaving these beans behind for the next people that own this house but the idea has merit!

  8. I had the feeling you crept into my kitchen and described my pantry. The only thing is that you didn’t open my refrigerator to describe it as easily half-filled with partial bottles of condiments…
    Lovely to have you back, I’ve been very hit-or-miss myself, but always a delight to see your posts!

    • Yes, don’t get me started on the door panels of the fridge. Why do I have 20 different Asian inspired sauces? (Thank you for the nice words! I hope to be posting more in the future.)

  9. I think a lot of us have a pantry just like yours – the bigger the pantry, the larger the scale of the catastrophe. This was a brilliant way to use up some odds and ends in a tasty way.

    • I have a fantasy of someday owning a pantry like Ina where magically I always have just enough chocolate chips for the recipe. In the meantime I need to do more periodic purges with recipes like this one.

  10. I love couscous when it’s got stuff in it. Plain couscous does nothing for me. Usually I put dried fruit in it or nuts but this recipe sounds wonderful.

    Honestly, I thought I was the only one with a hoarders pantry. I paid an organizer to come in and she went through it item by item and voila I could find stuff again. That was 6 months ago and I’m nearly as bad as I was before. I buy things for a recipe and then never use the stuff again.

  11. I’m not sure that we aren’t related in some way through my mother. After just helping her downsize we, (meaning me) threw away countless boxes of rancid crackers. I let her keep three of her favorite hot chocolate mixes, but gave away five. She had 8 cans of Pam, each a different variety. Who knew? Pastas…To many to count. 5 bottles of soy sauce in low salt to high salt. 3 containers of anchovy paste. 4 of tomato. Olive oils. Vinegars. Popcorn. OMG, the popcorn. The popcorn alone could keep her fed for years. You don’t want me to go on. What might your kitchen utensil drawers look like? And oh, yes. I was so overwhelmed just thinking about this. The couscous sounds superb!

    • OMG the utensil drawers! I don’t want to even go there. I have three of them and they used to be very organized but my hubby never can figure out what goes in which drawer so I never can find anything when I need it.

  12. I live with a pantry-item-collector and I am always getting in trouble for throwing out (years) old packets of this and that. This is a great “clean out the pantry” recipe and in fact, one of my “go to” recipes when I am spending time on my own in France. That way I don’t have to share either! Nice to have you back!

    • Thank you Mardi! I never thought about this being a good travel recipe but of course you are right! Consider it filed away just for that. Now if I could just get to Paris.

  13. Hey Trevor! Thanks so much for submitting to Yum Goggle! I can’t wait to see what else you throw our way – please do………..and often because this recipe is fantastic!

  14. Couscous on a tray
    What more can a girl say? Hey,
    Clean out your pantry…

    Late to the party – as is my wont these days.

    We are getting ready to move – which means figuring out what stays and what goes. Boxes that have been through four moves and never opened, probably have to go… Now, where I am struggling is with my determination to work down my pantry items. Somehow, I NEED that jar of fig jam – I won’ t be able to live with out it for the two months or so between now and moving. I am a hopeless cause. Always and forever.

    On the bright side, I did purge two closets full of clothing with nary a pang of angst.

    I like what you did with the jadeite bowls and bamboo trimmed platter. Very clever…

    We’ve missed you. XO