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Saffron couscous recipe

Saffron couscous recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Couscous salad

Saffron couscous, tossed with currants and seasoned with cumin and harissa is a lovely light dish. Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main dish salad.

2 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 5 saffron threads, or more to taste
  • 175g couscous
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 40g dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon harissa, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • sea salt to taste

MethodPrep:15min ›Extra time:35min › Ready in:50min

  1. Combine warm water and saffron together in a bowl.
  2. Mix couscous and vegetable stock together in a saucepan; bring to the boil. Remove saucepan from heat; cover saucepan and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a bowl.
  3. Stir saffron mixture, celery, currants, olive oil, lemon juice, harissa, cumin and sea salt into couscous. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.

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Saffron Couscous

Amount Per Serving Calories 364 Calories from Fat 23 % Daily Value * Total Fat 9.1g 14 % Saturated Fat 5.5g 28 % Cholesterol 23mg 8 % Sodium 823mg 35 % Total Carbohydrate 59g 20 % Dietary Fiber 3.2g 13 % Protein 10g 20 %

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1-1/4 cups)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
  • 30 saffron threads (about 1/8 tsp.), lightly toasted and crumbled
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Generous pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1-3/4 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup currants, soaked in warm water until tender and then drained
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Saffron Couscous

This is barely a recipe, but because I love serving couscous as a side, and I’m always looking for ways to make it special, I had to type it out, and give it a home.

You can serve this hot, as a side, or let it cool and incorporate it into any couscous salad where the sexy flavor of saffron would be welcome.

Perfect side dish for anything Mediterranean, anything lamb. Small couscous is a great grain to reach for if you default to rice (which many of us—and when I say us, I mean me—do). It takes an even shorter amount of time to cook, and it soaks up sauces beautifully.

Recipe Summary

  • 1/2 pound sunchokes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 small carrots, cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 small parsnips, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
  • 4 shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
  • Chopped cilantro and pistachios, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the sunchokes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, shallots, olive oil, lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and crushed red pepper. Season generously with salt. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, until tender and browned in spots.

Stir 1 cup of the water into the vegetables and scatter the currants and bay leaf on top. Roast for about 10 more minutes, until the currants are plump and the vegetables are saucy. Discard the bay leaf.

Meanwhile, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the remaining 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil with the butter. Remove from the heat, add the saffron and a generous pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Bring the water back to a boil and pour it over the couscous. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and season with salt.

Transfer the couscous to plates and spoon the roasted vegetables and their juices on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and pistachios and serve.

1 teaspoon 5ml Canola oil
1 Onion - finely chopped
1 Garlic clove - minced
1/2 teaspoon 2.5ml Ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon 2.5ml Ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon 2.5ml Ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon 1.3ml Saffron threads
2 cups 474ml Chicken broth
1 cup 237ml Couscous
2 tablespoons 30ml Currants
2 tablespoons 30ml Chopped fresh parsley
Salt - to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper - to taste
1 tablespoon 15ml Toasted sesame seeds

In heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat cook onion and garlic, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Add cumin, coriander, and ginger cook, stirring for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add saffron to broth. Stir into onion mixture. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous and currants. Cover and let steam for 5 minutes fluff with fork. Stir in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

This recipe yields 6 servings. Serving size: 1/6 recipe.

Exchanges Per Serving: 2 Starch.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 156 Total Fat 2g Saturated Fat 0g Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 263mg Potassium 166mg Carbohydrate 27g Protein 6g.


Rub combined salt, pepper, saffron and cumin into chicken and marinate several hours or overnight.

Heat butter and oil in large pan, add chicken and cook until browned. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pan, add onion and cinnamon and cook, stirring until onion is soft.

Return chicken to pan, add water and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes until chicken is tender. Just before serving add dates and honey and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve with saffron couscous and sprinkled with almonds.

For Saffron Couscous: Boil stock in pan with saffron. Remove from heat and stir in couscous. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add butter to couscous, cook stirring until combined.

Moroccan inspired harissa chicken and couscous ingredients

To make this delicious harissa chicken recipe you need a few ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs: boneless and skinless chicken thighs are perfect for this recipe.
  • Olive oil: preferably extra virgin.
  • Harissa paste: you can use homemade or store-bought.
  • Clemetines: for a little bit of sweetness and great flavor. This easy-peel fruit is known for its bright color and rich, sweet flavor.
  • Garlic: use at least 5 cloves of garlic as it gives so much flavor to the chicken.

And to make the couscous, you need:

  • Fine cousous: you can find it in almost any supermarket. Look for the fine one and not the large one.
  • Chicken stock: the couscous is going to be cooked in chicken stock.
  • Bloomed saffron: the perfect addition of flavor and color to the humble couscous. Check out my tutorial on how to bloom saffron.

Table of Contents

What Exactly Is Saffron?


The bright red threads of saffron come from a flower called Crocus Savitus, which is primarily grown in Greece, Spain, Iran, and Morocco. It’s difficult to explain such a luxurious flavor, but once you’ve had it, you’ll recognize this mysterious yet amazing taste forever.

If you’ve ever had an authentic paella or Persian rice dish, you’ve likely experienced the delicious quality from that unique spice. The only way to understand the rich character is by trying it for yourself.

Most saffron comes in small vessels, and sometimes, you can purchase a large jar filled with a few small vials of saffron. After purchasing it, be sure to keep the spice in the glass jar or vial and store it in a cool, dark place.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Crocus Savitus is the purple flower from which saffron is derived, and it only blooms one week out of every year. The red threads, called stigmas, are the pollen-germinating part of the flower. Each saffron flower bears only three stigmas, which are harvested by hand and dried for color preservation.

Only those tiny little threads are collected to make up the spice that we call saffron, and because all the harvesting is done by hand, the labor-intensive work means big money. According to Britannica, it takes about 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of the spice.

Today, you can purchase saffron in most grocery stores. For example, Trader Joe’s sells a small vial that holds at least a few pinches (0.7 grams, to be exact) for under $10. Of course, you can also find superb quality saffron on Amazon!

Zaran Saffron Threads

High-quality, 100% pure Persian saffron.

Unfortunately, today, there are faux variations of this legendary spice, making it hard to gauge whether you are buying the correct one or not. However, you can tell if you selected real saffron based on the price, shape, and color.

Saffron is wide at one end and tapered at the other. The threads should have a deep red hue, with little to no styles, and it’s pretty darn expensive. Also, be sure to steer clear of ground saffron, as it often contains fillers like paprika or turmeric. If a recipe calls for it, grind your own threads.

Cooking with Saffron

Many recipes call for a pinch of saffron, which literally means taking your index finger and thumb and gently pinching together several threads. Because everyone’s “pinch” can look different, you can also carefully count out about 10-15 threads.

A pinch of saffron goes a long way, especially if there aren’t any other competing spices in the dish. However, if the recipe calls for several pungent spices, go for a heftier pinch or 20-plus threads.

You can release the flavor of saffron in a couple of ways. One method is by steeping the saffron in hot water before adding the water and threads to the dish. You’ll notice that the water will turn a yellowish hue from the threads.

You can alternatively crush the saffron threads using a small mortar and pestle and add a pinch of sugar or salt to act as an abrasive and further break down the spice. Finally, add a few tablespoons of water, take in the intoxicating aroma, and then add it to your meal!

Some recipes call for adding the threads directly to a dish. These are usually foods that take some time to cook, so the flavor can be drawn out without having to bloom the spice beforehand.

You’ll find plenty of delicious recipes that call for this spice, but here are some of the most common (and delicious).

Tahdig (Crispy Persian Rice)

The Mediterranean Dish

Tahdig (pronounced Tah-Deeg) is an Iranian saying for the bottom of the pot, which refers to a fluffy rice dish that’s buttery on the inside, with a gorgeous golden crust outside. The crispy rice exterior, which is crafted from the bottom of the pot, adds a fantastic texture that you won’t find in any other meal.

The dried cherries scattered throughout the rice add a subtly sweet burst of tang to each bite. However, it’s the saffron threads intermingled within the grains of rice that really make the dish shine. Be sure to follow the instructions for the best results for an authentic Tahdig.

Tuscan Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce


You’ll also love exploring the flavors of Tuscany with this rich, cream-based sauce. This dish will make its way to the dinner table within 30 minutes, and you’ll love the intoxicating flavor (and aroma) in each bite.

You’ll learn to gently infuse the cream with saffron while browning the chicken in a separate pan. Then, with a bit of oil, minced garlic, and a white wine for deglazing, the magic of culinary arts brings the ingredients to life. Serve this over basmati rice or polenta.

Spanish Paella

Tastes Better from Scratch

Learn how to make an authentic Paella, the most popular dish of Spain, following a recipe from a Madrid home. The recipe includes plenty of tips and adaptations for cooking this one-pot meal in an American Kitchen.

Keep in mind that all homes have their own version of “authentic,” which means that this recipe might differ from the one you’ve used over the years. Nevertheless, you’ll love this hearty meal, which highlights a plethora of chicken, seafood, veggies, and, of course, saffron!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Saffron

Analida’s Ethnic Spoon

Moroccan tagines are but another famous, stew-like dish known for their aromatic flavor in each bite. The slow-cooked method and married spices offer an astounding oomph of flavor paired with a perfectly tender bite.

If you don’t own the North African cookware known as a Tagine, you can follow the author’s cookware adaptations for this recipe. Serve this succulent saffron dish with basmati rice or couscous.

Saffron Cake

Savory Thoughts

Get ready to freak out over this perfect, saffron-infused pound cake. That signature taste of saffron can be found in each enticing bite, and you’ll love using it in subtly sweet dishes after trying this one.

Be sure to read through all the tips used in this moist and intriguingly flavored cake recipe before delving in.

Now that you know all about those mysterious crimson threads called saffron, be sure to work your way through all of these recipes. And if you want to start grinding all of your own spices, here’s everything that you’ll need to do it!

Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

Watch the video: طريقة تحضير الكسكس المغربي على حقو وطريقو لذيذ وبنينكسكس مغربي couscous marocain


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