Couscous pilaf

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.   Published February 1, 2005.

For the fluffiest texture, use a large fork to fluff the grains; a spoon or spatula would destroy the light texture. Specialty markets may carry couscous of varying size, but stick to the classic kind. Other sizes require different cooking methods.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups plain couscous
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 small onion , chopped fine
3/4 cup raisins
Table salt
1 3/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
Ground black pepper


  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the couscous and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until some grains are beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Scrape the grains from the skillet into a large bowl and return the pan to medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until they are lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape them into a small bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Once it melts, add the onion, raisins, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and water, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the boiling liquid to the bowl with the toasted couscous, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to sit until the couscous is tender, about 12 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap, fluff the grains with a fork, and gently stir in the almonds and lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

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