One Prep, Two Meals: Couscous

Quick meals don’t get any easier than boiling water, pouring it over couscous, and adding fresh veg and canned beans. Get couscous recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Hopefully you’ve been inspired by all of this month’s recipes to look beyond leftovers and use the one prep–two meals formula. If couscous isn’t a staple in your pantry, this week’s post may surprise you as much as risotto did last week. But once you try these recipes, you’ll stock up on couscous for plenty of quick, easy meals. Just as fresh pasta outshines dried in any meal, instant couscous can’t compete with semolina grains steamed in stages in a couscoussière. But for quick meals at home, in the woods, or on the water, it doesn’t get any easier than boiling water and pouring it over the couscous. Add some fresh veg and canned beans, and you have lunch and dinner ready in a snap.

Speed and ease are just two of the beauties of the recipes you’ll find here. As I shared with more than a dozen sailors in a workshop this week, the two recipes here can spawn many days of meals cooked in a galley or over a camp stove and grill: I always travel with several heads of preroasted garlic to serve on grilled pizza, sandwiches, and other meals. The extra half-batch of chermoula can be used as a shrimp marinade. Bonus cans of chickpeas can be mashed into hummus. Extra veg can be grilled or sliced for dinner sides or between-meal snacks. And homemade feta disappears so quickly into hungry mouths you could never travel with too much.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipes below, but here are the basics for one prep, two meals.
To make both recipes quickly, you need some kitchen staples, preroasted garlic, and premade chermoula, plus the following ingredients:
2 cups instant couscous (you can rehydrate this while you make this post’s meals)
a bunch of veg: 1 red onion, 6 carrots, 2 zucchini, 1 cucumber, and 1 red bell pepper
2 cans chickpeas
8 ounces feta

Here’s what you do:
1. Boil water for Cinnamon Couscous and let it sit to rehydrate.
2. Chop up all of your veg and drain the chickpeas.
3. Cook the hot dish; mix the salad dressing while it’s cooking.
4. Serve dinner over half of the couscous.
5. When the remaining couscous is cooled to room temperature, mix the salad and store it for your next day’s lunch.

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Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Feta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced on an angle
3 cloves Roasted Garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 small zucchini, sliced
1/2 batch Chermoula
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup water
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 batch Cinnamon Couscous
4 ounces Dry-Salted Feta, or more to taste

Prep all ingredients as noted in the ingredient list; to prep two meals, cut up extra onion and carrots and have twice the amount of couscous and feta on hand (see Tips & Tricks and below).

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots; sauté for about 4 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic, chickpeas, zucchini, and chermoula; stir until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season to taste. Serve over warm couscous and top with crumbled or cubed feta. Serves 4.

Tips & Tricks
  • The only potentially challenging thing about this recipe is keeping its homemade ingredients on hand. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything; by substituting in store-bought ingredients as needed, you’ll appreciate your homemade ones even more next time.
  • When I’m planning to make this recipe while sailing or camping, I roast the garlic and blend up the chermoula at home before the trip; I generally make extra of both to use in recipes like Roasted-Garlic Hummus and Grilled Shrimp with Chermoula. I make the feta at home too; you can always substitute a store-bought brand until you become hooked on homemade cheese.
  • If I’m planning to eat this meal at home, I start by cooking up a pot of dried chickpeas, my preferred form of legumes. It’s an extra step but an easy one, and they’re cheaper than canned beans and have little salt or other additives.
  • Whether you’re outdoors or at home, you can make up Couscous Salad with Raw Vegetables at the same time as this meal so that it’s ready to eat straight from the cooler. For the best texture, seal the salad dressing in a jar and keep it separately in the cooler until lunchtime.
  • Carrots and zucchini travel well, but you can grab other veg when it’s in season. Asparagus, snap peas, and broccoli are natural choices in spring; potatoes and winter squash work well in fall.


Quick meals don’t get any easier than boiling water, pouring it over couscous, and adding fresh veg and canned beans. Get couscous recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

Quick meals don’t get any easier than boiling water, pouring it over couscous, and adding fresh veg and canned beans. Get couscous recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.When we’re sailing, we rarely drop an anchor at lunchtime. If we’re lucky, we’ll be heeled over with full sails. So meals I can stash in a cooler and we can eat out of a container form the backbone of my sailing lunch plan. It’s the same if you’re car camping and don’t want to unload your trunk just to fix lunch. Container salads also make perfect picnic meals when traveling solo or serving a group.

Like most salads, you really don’t need a recipe. But when I’m traveling, it helps to have a plan for each salad so that I don’t run short of a key ingredient, like lemon juice or vinegar for a dressing, or fill all of my food-storage space with extra fresh produce that’s going to spoil before it’s gobbled up. Of course, plans can always change: if you forage some mushrooms, make friends with a local fisherman, or find a farmer’s market in full swing when you hit a town, swap out the listed ingredients for your fresh treats.

Ready to give it a try? The one prep, two meal option was outlined earlier. Here are the basics for just the recipe below:
You need just 4 main ingredients plus some vegetables, along with some spices and kitchen staples for a dressing.
1. Mix the dressing.
2. Cut up the vegetables.
3. Mix together all of the ingredients and enjoy.

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Couscous Salad with Raw Vegetables

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
generous pinch of cinnamon
1 clove Roasted Garlic, minced
1/2 cup red onion, minced
3 carrots, sliced on an angle
1 cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 batch Cinnamon Couscous
4 ounces Dry-Salted Feta, crumbled, or more to taste

Prepare the dressing by combining the oil, lemon juice, spices, and roasted garlic in a small jar. Seal with a lid, shake until emulsified, and then set aside.

Chop any vegetables not reserved from Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Feta. Add the vegetables and chickpeas to a large bowl. Fold in the couscous until the salad is well mixed. Pour on the dressing and fold it into the salad. Add the feta, folding it in gently. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serves 4.

Tips & Tricks
  • To vary the flavors between this salad and the hot dinner, I rely on ground spices for the dressing. If you’re making this salad on its own, Chermoula works well as a dressing or you can start with a different salad dressing base.
  • When you’re making dinner, you can half prep the salad, chopping the onion and carrots, making the couscous, and storing the vegetables and grains separately. When you’re ready to eat the second dish in a couple of days, more of your prep is done but the salad will be ultrafresh.
  • If you didn’t plan on making this recipe but have leftover couscous from dinner, you can make this salad on the fly with whatever fresh veg you have on hand. When I’m firing up the grill on the boat or at home, I’ll serve extra couscous under Wasabi-Marinated Shrimp or Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms.
  • Fully made, this salad easily keeps a couple of days in the fridge. To keep it longer, store the dressing separately and add it and the cheese just before serving.

Like what you’ve learned? To learn more in a Twice as Tasty workshop—in your own kitchen, among friends, and with my personal help—click here. If you’re not yet a Twice as Tasty subscriber, get newsletters delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.

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