Grain of the Month: Couscous

By Kelli Swensen, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

The first Tuesday of every month we will be featuring a grain. The posts will include background on the grain, nutritional information, instructions on how to store and cook it, and, of course, one or two healthy recipes for using the grain. Our goal is to help you add variety to your meals in 2012!

Picture From Simply Scratch

Picture From Simply Scratch

Couscous: Fun to say and easy to prepare, couscous is made from crushed durum wheat semolina, making it like chopped up pasta. Just like regular pasta, couscous comes in both refined and whole wheat varieties, so when selecting your box or bag of couscous in the store, be sure to check that it is whole wheat! Couscous is a staple in Middle Easter cuisine and is often seen in American foods, served under beef or vegetable stews. Extremely versatile, couscous can be used in place of rice and makes a great addition to soups, stews, and salads.

Nutritional Profile
Whole wheat couscous is a good source of protein, fiber, niacin, selenium, and B vitamins. On average, 1 cup of cooked couscous contains around 200 calories (prepared in water).

Buying and Storing
There are three main types of couscous:Moroccan, Israeli, and Lebanese (in order from smallest to largest and shortest cooking time to longest). At the store you can buy either traditional couscous, which takes a while to steam unless you use it in a risotto, or instant. Again,  there are a lot of pre-seasoned and instant couscous products and many of them are not whole wheat. Be sure to check the ingredients label before purchasing! Cooked couscous should be refrigerated for no longer than a week.

Preparing
The key to couscous is to not boil it. Once you place the couscous in the pot of boiling water or stock, immediately decrease the temperature to the lowest setting and cover. Steam until it has absorbed all liquid and fluff with a fork. Because couscous is pretty much flavorless, most recipes call for preparing it in a stock or adding seasonings and spices during cooking.
Recipes

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