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The Ultimate Winter Couscous

The ultimate cous cous recipe for the Winter season. From Yotam Ottolenghi, this vegetarian dish embraces luxurious saffron and aromatic fresh coriander.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi


Someone complained to the Guardian about the long list of ingredients in this recipe. But I knew it was a success when a friend spotted it on the menu (with a due credit) of the Sun and Doves, a cool and arty pub in Camberwell.

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2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
8 shallots, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp hot paprika
¼ tsp chilli flakes
300g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
75g dried apricots, roughly chopped
200g chickpeas (canned or freshly cooked)
350ml chickpea cooking liquid and/or water
170g couscous
A large pinch of saffron threads
260ml boiling vegetable stock
20g butter, broken into pieces
25g harissa paste
25g preserved lemon skin, finely chopped
30g coriander leaves


Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Place the carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large ovenproof dish. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 4 tablespoons of the oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and all the other spices and mix well. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the pumpkin, stir and return to the oven. Continue cooking for about 35 minutes, by which time the vegetables should have softened while retaining a bite. Now add the dried apricots and the chickpeas with their cooking liquid and/or water. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until hot.

About 15 minutes before the vegetables are ready, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the saffron and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for about 10 minutes. Then add the butter and fluff up the couscous with a fork until the butter melts in. Cover again and leave somewhere warm.

To serve, spoon couscous into a deep plate or bowl. Stir the harissa and preserved lemon into the vegetables; taste and add salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables onto the centre of the couscous. Finish with plenty of coriander leaves.


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