We would be very surprised if you answered yes. Couscous has been a staple throughout North Africa since at least the 13th century and possibly as early as the 10th century and its popularity quickly spread throughout the Middle East and even into Turkey and southern Europe. It is a nationally recognized traditional food product of Western Sicily, and was voted the third favorite dish of French people in 2011. Couscous is has also become very popular in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece.
Couscous was originally produced from ground semolina, sprinkled with water, rolled by hand into small pellets, and then sprinkled with dry flour to keep the pellets separate. Traditionally, the couscous was cooked in a steamer over a pot in which a meat and vegetable stew was being cooked, so that the couscous can absorb the flavors from the stew as it steams.
Today, of course, the entire manufacturing process has been mechanized. The couscous that is currently available in supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried. Simply add the couscous to a pot of boiling water or broth according to the package directions and cover tightly for 5 minutes. The couscous will absorb the water or broth and swell, and in about 5 minutes it is ready to fluff with a fork and serve.
Below you will find an outstanding recipe using couscous that can be served as a side dish, or as a vegan or vegetarian entrée.
Lemon Couscous with Olives
- 1½ tsp garlic, minced
- 3 Tbs light olive oil
- 1¾ cups vegetable broth
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ cups couscous
- ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- ¼ tsp Amoretti Lemon Zest Oil Extract
In a heavy saucepan, saute garlic in light olive oil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add vegetable broth and salt and bring to boil. Stir in couscous, olives, and lemon oil extract, cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, place in a serving bowl and garnish with parsley before serving.