Crispy Tomato and Onion Couscous

Another killer recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Couscous is mad delicious in any form, but this dish is extra yummy because it combines the fluffiness of couscous with a hint of some crispy crunchiness too. It’s an excellent side-dish to go with any meat or fish meal, but the last couple time’s I’ve made it I’ve had couscous on its own along side a nice fresh green salad–the perfect balance.


It’s easy to make and if you love this recipe as much as I think you will, it’ll probably become one that you use often. Especially because one cup of couscous goes a long way, and overall it’s incredibly inexpensive to make.

What you’ll need:

  • Approximately 1 cup of couscous (maybe a bit less than one cup but hey, these measurements are just a suggestion)
  • 2 medium sized ripe tomatoes, diced into small pieces
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1 and a half cups of hot chicken or veg stock (or just boiling water)
  • A couple tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Some olive oil, salt and pepper
  • About 3 tablespoons of butter
  • OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED: spicy Moroccan Harissa paste, if you’re able to get your hands on some.

What to do:

In a large saucepan (preferably a non-stick with a heavy base) heat up some olive oil and sauté the chopped onions for about 5 minutes until soft, but not browned yet. Meanwhile cover the couscous with the hot stock or water and cover with some plastic wrap. Let this sit for 10 minutes.

While the couscous is resting, add the tomato puree, harissa paste, salt and pepper to the onions and stir well. Then add the tomatoes.



Stir for about 3 minutes then turn the heat off. Go back to the couscous and remove the plastic wrap. All the water should be absorbed and it should be light and fluffy. Fluff up with a fork and then add the tomato and onion mixture to the couscous and stir it up really well.


Okay so here’s when it starts to get really fun! Wipe the bottom of the pot clean with a paper towel and add the butter. Melt the butter on medium heat and then add all the couscous, patting it down with a spoon as the cookbook says: “so everything is packed in snugly”.


Cover the pot and allow the couscous to steam for at least 10 minutes. Then, using a dull knife or spatula, peek at the sides of the couscous, it should be golden brown and crispy. If the sides are brown and crispy, chances are the bottom will be too. Once you’re satisfied that it’s browned without being totally burnt, turn the heat off and serve!


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3 Responses to Crispy Tomato and Onion Couscous

  1. Joel Marcus says:

    I made this last night but wasn’t completely successful. Think I had a little too much stock and tomato sauce or not enough couscous. At the final stage, I kept waiting for it to come together and form the the nice, paddy-like structure illustrated in the cookbook, but it never did, and it burned on the bottom while I was waiting for it to do that.

    • theopinionatedtraveler says:

      The first couple times I made this it came out perfectly and then the next couple times I had the same problem as you. Too much moisture can prevent the nice crunch from happening. Give it another try and try and remove some liquid if possible, also, be patient, if you keep it covered at a not so high heat, it should get evenly crispy after about 12 minutes or so.

  2. Pingback: Literary Foodies & Kofta B’siniyah | Seasons of Wine

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