Winter Morning Couscous


When I was a vegetarian, I probably made couscous at least twice a week, mainly because it’s so quick and versatile. It takes 10 minutes to cook; you toss in cubed tofu, beans, or roasted vegetables and dinner’s done. Now in last week’s New York Times Dining Section, they featured a recipe for morning couscous with oranges and dates. After all these years, why didn’t I ever think to do a morning couscous? The problem: I found the NYT recipe to be a bit fussy with straining and cheesecloth and steaming…all unnecessary for a quick morning meal, in my opinion. So I spent a few hours in the kitchen and developed my own simpler version of a morning couscous using two of my favorite ingredients: almond and coconut.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is you add the nuts and shredded coconut in at the end, so if you’d rather use dried fruits, raisins, fresh fruit, or different nuts–feel free. I used Israeli couscous (heartier and nice for this time of year) and decided to try cooking the couscous in coconut milk instead of water for a richer, slightly sweet flavor. It turned out beautifully. If you concoct your own version of the recipe, I’d love to hear about it!

Winter Morning Couscous

Winter Morning Couscous

  • Yield: 4
  • Prep time: 5 mins
  • Cook time: 5 mins
  • Inactive time: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins

When you buy cans of coconut milk, the liquid and the solids separate. Give it a good stir and make sure to measure out mostly liquid as that is what the couscous will cook in. I did use sweetened shredded coconut, but you may certainly opt to use unsweetened. If you do, you may just want to add an extra dash of honey or agave.

Ingredients

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar (use agave to keep recipe vegan)
Dash of salt

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 F and toast the sliced almonds until fragrant and just golden brown (5-8 minutes). Remove and set aside.

Pour coconut milk in a small saucepan and heat until almost boiling, but not quite. Add couscous, honey, and dash of salt and stir quickly. Cover the pot and remove from heat; let sit for 15 minutes. During this time, the couscous will absorb the liquid. Once couscous has absorbed all of the liquid, add in the roasted almonds and shredded coconut and a dash more honey to taste (depends on how sweet you like it). Serve with hot tea or coffee and sliced fruit.

Comments

  1. Kelsey B.

    This is a great idea, I never thought of breakfast cous-cous either, though I love the convenience of it. Your photography is really amazing. What camera and lense are you shooting with? have you ever taken a course? I haven't figured out how to do montages like that, but would love to know.

  2. Megan Gordon

    Thanks, Kelsey! That means a lot as it's sort of the one very unexpected passion that's arisen from food blogging...I use a Canon Rebel Xsi and I'll shoot you an email with some more details!

  3. Rachael

    GREAT idea! I often substitute isrealei couscous for grits or oatmeal in the morning! cooking it with coconut milk sounds delish! i usually cook it plain and add some brown sugar and raisins but I cant WAIT to try this out!

  4. Lauren

    I've recently been enjoying brown rice pudding in place of oatmeal in the mornings, and I love the idea of couscous for breakfast!

  5. El

    Great idea. Thanks for tinkering with the recipe for us and sparing us the pain. I'm getting really tired of my regular breakfast. This looks great.

  6. L

    I just ate this amazing goodness. It was awesome.

  7. Mo

    OMG - awesome 1I never thought about couscous in the morning either! Definitely giving this one a try. Thanks!

  8. Megan Gordon

    Lauren-yes, I see that amazing looking brown rice pudding on your site that I'd love to try! Thanks for mentioning...

    Thanks for the comments, El and Mo. It really is easy and delicious.

    And L, I'm so glad you've tried the recipe and enjoyed it!

  9. Dallas Shaw

    oh - stunning
    dallas
    http://dillydallas.blogspot.com

  10. oatsnboats

    That sounds like such a great idea. I can't wait to try it - coconut milk just went on my shopping list so I can try this out as soon as possible. I just discovered Israeli couscous a few months ago and I love it. I can also see this with some cranberries or cherries in it. Yum :-)

  11. saveur

    This looks scrumptious and delicious! I can't wait to try it. :D Thanks for sharing.

  12. iris

    OMG. This recipe sounds amazing! i'm trying it tomorrow morning! will get back to you on what toppings i decide to put with whatever i have in my pantry. Thanks for sharing!

    1. megang

      Please do let me know what you add, Iris...perfect for this time of year. Enjoy!

  13. saveur

    I made this recently and enjoyed it.. a bit heavier than expected so I wonder whether light coconut milk would solve that problem?

    http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/morning-couscous-almond-coconut-honey/

    1. megang

      That's a great question. I haven't tried it, but I'd love to hear how it goes if you do. Do remember that it's supposed to be a hearty breakfast dish (so it should be a bit on the heavy side since it's actually cooked in the coconut milk). It's definitely not your light, airy couscous that you fluff with a fork and call it a day. Yours looked excellent though...glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Julia

    It has been a while since you posted this recipe... I was searching for "couscous with coconut milk" and found your recipe that inspired me to make couscous half with water/half coconut milk with some thin apple slices, dried apricot, cinnamon and almonds. It was really good soulfood. Still, I am searching for an additional spice if you have an idea?
    Best wishes, Julia

    1. megang

      Hi Julia! Two thoughts: nutmeg would be nice. Not too much. Or what about cardamom? I think that'd be fantastic with the apples and apricots. Best of luck. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Frankie

    I made a version of this tonight using roughly chopped roasted almonds, but with dates instead of coconut, it was so delicious!

    I also added a pinch of a homemade chai wholespice mix (cinnamon, cardamon, clove, coriander seed and aniseed) to the coconut milk while it was heating- so fragrant!

    1. megang

      Yay! Sounds so awesome, Frankie!

  16. Ali

    Megan, just a note that you have this tagged Gluten-free which couscous is not. It looks delicious, and I might use it as a jumping off point with some gluten free grains. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. megang

      Oh goodness, thank you so much for the note, Ali. Of course. That must've been a mistake in the mad-tagging that was done to bring the new site about. Thank you for catching it - I've updated it now. Have a great weekend (and enjoy the recipe should you try it).

  17. Aidan

    Hi! This is quite a few years later BUT I'd love to make this before it warms up and I turn away from porridge towards smoothies. I'm just wondering - the instructions on my Israeli couscous (Bob's Red Mill) call for 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of couscous... Do you think I should add extra water? Or will the lack of excess liquid just make it more porridge-y.

    Thank you so much! :)

    1. megang

      Hi, Aidan! Sorry for the delay here. Interesting. I'd go with the package instructions for that product - perhaps do the 1 up coconut milk as the recipe suggests and 1/4 cup water and I bet it'll turn out perfect. If it starts seeming a little dry, could always add that extra 1/4 cup. Good luck + enjoy.

Join the Discussion

Winter Comfort Food

Winter Morning Porridge

Winter Morning Porridge

I intended on baking holiday cookies to share with you today, but when I sat down to brainstorm all I could think about, truly, was the morning porridge I've been making and how that's really what I wanted to send you away with. The holiday season always seems to zoom on by at its own clip with little regard for how most of us wish it would just slow down, and this year feels like no exception. We got our tree last week and I've been making a point to sit in the living room and admire the twinkle as much as possible. I have lofty goals of snowflakes and gingerbread men and stringing cranberries and popcorn, but I'm also trying to get comfortable with the fact that everything may not get done, and that sitting amongst the twinkle is really the most important. That and a warm breakfast before the day spins into gear. This multi-grain porridge has proved to be a saving grace on busy weekday mornings, and it reheats beautifully so I've been making a big pot and bringing it to work with some extra chopped almonds and fresh pomegranate seeds. While cookies are certainly on the horizon, I think I'll have this recipe to thank for getting us through the busy days ahead. 

Read More
Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine).  Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).

Read More
Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard

Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard

If I asked you about what you like to cook at home when the week gets busy, I'm willing to bet it might be something simple. While there are countless websites and blogs and innumerable resources to find any kind of recipe we may crave, it's often the simple, repetitive dishes that we've either grown up with or come to love that call to us when cooking (or life in general) seems overwhelming or when we're feeling depleted. While my go-to is typically breakfast burritos or whole grain bowls, this Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard would make one very fine, very doable house meal on rotation. The adaptations are endless, and its made from largely pantry ingredients. I never thought I'd hop on the cauliflower "rice" bandwagon, but I have to say after making it a few times, I get the hype. 

Read More
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.

Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.

Read More
Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche Tart with a Cornmeal Millet Crust

Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche Tart with a Cornmeal Millet Crust

It's been a uniformly gray and rainy week in Seattle, and I'd planned on making a big pot of salmon chowder to have for the weekend, but then the new issue of Bon Appetit landed on my doorstep with that inviting "Pies for Dinner" cover, and I started to think about how long it's been since I made my very favorite recipe from my cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings. I'm often asked at book events which recipe I love most, and it's a tough one to answer because I have favorites for different moods or occasions, but I'd say that this savory tart is right up there. The cornmeal millet crust is one of my party tricks; when we need a quick brunch recipe, this is what I pull out of my back pocket because it's so simple and delicious. This is a no-roll, no fuss crust with a slightly sandy, crumbly texture thanks to the cornmeal, and a delightful crunch from the millet. In the past, I've used the crust and custard recipe as the base for any number of fillings: on The Kitchn last year, I did a version with greens and gruyere, and I teach cooking classes that often include a version heavy on local mushrooms and shallot. So if you are not keen on salmon or have some vegetables you're looking to use up this week, feel free to fold in whatever is inspiring you right now. Sometimes at this point in winter that can be hard, so hopefully this recipe may help a little. 

Read More