This savory baked vegetarian couscous is substantial enough to serve as a vegetarian main dish, but light enough to help you avoid a carb coma. Keep reading to learn how to make this carefully balanced mix of Israeli couscous, fresh vegetables and herbs, edamame, and the finishing touch — a magical crispy topping.
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How I Fell in Love with Couscous
I first learned about couscous when I was freshman at Santa Clara University. Coming from Omaha, Nebraska in 1998, my exposure to available vegetarian restaurant options was mostly limited to boring side salads and baked potatoes. When I realized the cafeteria had an entirely vegetarian section, a salad bar AND a Jamba Juice on campus, I was pretty much in heaven. (Side note: I had never heard of Jamba before then, and we still don’t have one in Omaha, so I’ve geeked out about finding them when traveling ever since.)
One of the main dishes at the vegetarian station was vegetables and couscous. At the time, to me, that was vegetarian royalty, foodwise. I definitely expanded my definition of good vegetarian food during the short time I lived in California. (I transferred to Creighton University sophomore year and finished my bachelor’s degree there, but that’s a completely different story.)
The Next Step: Israeli Couscous
Years later, I discovered Israeli couscous, which combined my love of pasta and my admiration of couscous. Israeli couscous is basically tiny pasta balls and they are so good.
This recipe is the result of trying to come up with a good vegetarian main. For weeks I couldn’t decide what to make for Thanksgiving. I wanted something that would truly be a vegetarian main dish, not just a side. Then out of the blue (which is how all my good ideas hit me), I’m walking around Wal-Mart and the Israeli couscous practically jumps off the shelf and hits me in the head. Okay, not really, but instantly I knew what I wanted to make, and it all started to come together.
I was afraid I might be throwing too many flavors together, so of course I tested it out. But no, they work together perfectly! And I can’t wait to see how this recipe comes out for you. Plus, this is one of those recipes where it’s super easy to throw in chicken at the end for meat eaters (I buy precooked chicken strips because I really don’t like cooking it) or sub a couple ingredients for a vegan recipe.
So let’s get down to the good stuff. This recipe is good for anytime of year, but if you make it in another season besides Fall, you may need to sub in dried herbs for the fresh.
This savory baked vegetarian couscous is substantial enough to serve as a vegetarian main dish, but light enough to help you avoid a carb coma. Keep reading to learn how to make this carefully balanced mix of Israeli couscous, fresh vegetables and herbs, edamame, and the finishing touch -- a magical crispy topping.
- 1/2 small head broccoli chopped
- 6-10 mini sweet peppers chopped, approx. 1/2 cup yield
- 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
- 1 TB lemon juice fresh or bottled, your choice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 TB whole grain mustard
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion chopped
- 2 cups Israeli couscous, dry also know as pearled couscous – same thing!
- 1 TB minced garlic
- 4 cups vegetable broth can used commercial or homemade
- 1/2 TB fresh thyme
- 1/2 TB fresh sage
- 1/4 TB fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup shredded muenster cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- .25 cup pine nuts
- Additional herbs for topping
Make it vegan: Leave out the cheese or use a vegan version.
Pro tip: If you’re making this recipe close to Thanksgiving, they sell fresh sage, rosemary and thyme combined in one package, labeled “poultry blend.” Yes, I get the irony. Just go with it.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 622 Total Fat: 33g Carbohydrates: 69g Protein: 17g