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Seven-Vegetable Couscous

In Morocco, couscous is the traditional ending of a meal, served to ensure that no one leaves the table hungry. There are dozens of variations; in this classic preparation, the carrots, chickpeas, zucchini, turnips and butternut squash are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. Together with semolina couscous (a low-fat complex carbohydrate) and lean chicken, this dish is one of the world's most nutritionally balanced meals.

Plus: More Vegetable Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 pounds veal shanks, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Water
  • 2 large tomatoes—peeled, seeded and quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Large pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 10 cilantro sprigs and 10 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, tied in cheesecloth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and cut lengthwise into thick wedges
  • 1 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups instant couscous (14 ounces)
  • Harissa or other hot sauce, for serving


  1. In a large soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion to a bowl, add the chicken and veal to the pot in a single layer and cook until the meat is browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes longer.
  2. Add 2 1/2 quarts of water, the cooked onion, the tomatoes, ginger, cinnamon sticks, paprika, cayenne, saffron and herb bundle to the pot and bring to a boil, skimming. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 35 minutes; transfer to a plate. Continue cooking the veal, partially covered, until tender, about 1 1/4 hours longer. Add the veal to the chicken. Discard the herb bundle and cinnamon sticks and refrigerate the broth until chilled; skim off any fat from the surface.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan. Add the couscous and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nutty and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add 5 1/2 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, fluff the couscous and mound it in 8 large bowls. Spoon the meat, vegetables and broth over the couscous and serve, passing the harissa on the side.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Rewarm before serving.


One Serving 619 calories, 15.7 gm total fat, 4.7 gm saturated fat, 68 gm carb.

Suggested Pairing

To bridge the many flavors here, look for a light Pinot Noir from California or Oregon to serve cool.

Contributed By Published January 2004

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