Couscous is a great base for any number of roasted vegetables and beans, and it cooks just as easily in the oven as it does on the stovetop. Here it hangs out with some roasted tomatoes, olives, feta, and mint. This is one of my favorite quick suppers that serves double duty as a picnic/potluck salad—it just gets better and better the longer the ingredients mingle together.
Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that means “top of the spice,” referring to the towering pyramids of spices available to purchase by the gram in souks across the country. The flavor is a little sweet and a little spicy, like a subdued curry powder—and like curry powder or garam masala (another wonderful Indian spice blend that’s earthier and more cinnamon-y than curry), it can be made from a wildly vast array of herbs and spices from cumin to coriander, chili powder to ginger and clove. You can find it in Middle Eastern markets and even some grocery store spice aisles and, of course, online.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 medium-size tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout or garam masala
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra as needed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
- 1½ cups couscous
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1¼ cups boiling water
- 1 cup hot vegetable broth (or 1 extra cup boiling water)
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- ½ cup pitted green olives (such as Castelvetrano or Picholine), finely chopped
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F.
- 2. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the ras el hanout, salt, and pepper in a medium-size bowl to coat. Turn them out onto a rimmed sheet pan, spreading them into an even layer. Roast until they start to soften and become juicy, 12 to 15 minutes.
- 3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Wearing oven mitts, carefully pull out the sheet pan partway (so it’s still resting on the oven rack), add the couscous, chickpeas, boiling water, and vegetable broth to the tomatoes, and stir to incorporate. Cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil (you may need 2 sheets), crimping it tightly around the edges to seal.
- 4. Bake until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid, about 12 minutes. (Carefully turn up one corner of the foil and peek in to check.) Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the couscous cool, covered, for 5 minutes.
- 5. Turn the couscous out into a large bowl and fluff it with a fork (or keep it on the sheet pan if you prefer). Add the lemon zest and juice, scallions, olives, feta, and remaining tablespoon olive oil and fluff again. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed, which will depend on how salty your feta and olives are. Stir in most of the mint; sprinkle the rest over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days and serve cold.