Fragrant Easy One Pot Ground Lamb and Couscous combines Middle Eastern spices with dried fruit, spinach, and chick peas in the ultimate quick and healthy one-pot meal!
One. Pot. One. Plate. Rocks.
I love a dish loaded with flavor, fresh ingredients, healthy nutrients, and balanced macros… all in one pot! When you sit down to enjoy a generous serving of ground lamb and couscous, you can relax knowing you have only one pan to wash up! And you’re getting a really well-balanced meal in the process. I’d say it’s a win-win…
And about Middle Eastern Cooking
Middle Eastern cuisine features so many amazing flavors and ingredients – warm spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander, sumac, smoked paprika, allspice, thyme; fresh ingredients like cilantro (coriander), mint, dill, lemons, spinach; pantry staples like pomegranate molasses, orange blossom and rose water, preserved lemons, harissa, chick peas, olives and olive oil, and dried fruit. My mouth is watering just thinking about the myriad possibilities!
Wheat and rice form the backbone of Middle Eastern cooking. You’ll encounter bulghur wheat, couscous, and rice, and less typically, grains like barley, freekeh (immature green wheat), and corn. Beans and pulses (chick peas, fava beans, lentils, split peas) make up a large portion of the Middle Eastern diet, making it a nutritious option for vegetarians. Lamb and mutton are the favored meats, but chicken is also quite common. Consumption of pork is prohibited in both Islam and Judaism, so you’re not likely to see many pork-based Middle Eastern recipes.
What countries/regions are included in “Middle Eastern?” Historically, the region refers to the “Fertile Crescent,” the area adjacent to the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile rivers. The cuisine is diverse while having much in common, and includes both Arab and non-Arab cuisines: Arab, Iranian/Persian, Greek, Armenian, Israeli, and Turkish. For more on Middle Eastern flavors, see Traditional Flavor Profiles: Middle Eastern Herbs and Spices.
From day 1, it has been my desire to help my audience learn to use a well-stocked pantry and a knowledge of flavor profiles to break free from following a “recipe.” I am not confident that I have succeeded on that front? I would love to hear your thoughts…
Easy One Pot Ground Lamb and Couscous
This recipe is a perfect example of how I use my pantry and flavor profiles. All of the non-perishable items (couscous, spices, dried fruit, chick peas) are items I keep on hand. When I run low, my husband adds them to the grocery list app on our phone (OurGroceries). I keep ground lamb in my freezer, and I use large quantities of fresh baby spinach, so I almost always have it in my refrigerator. I tried to limit the ingredients to those commonly found in our “regular” markets.
I’ve rattled off a somewhat sizable list of Middle Eastern staples. I start with the flavors I want to incorporate and build on that. I specify ground/minced lamb, but you can certainly sub turkey, chicken, or pork. The dried apricots are amazing, but so are dried cherries, golden raisins, dates, dried figs, etc. Keeping it “one pot” necessitates plenty of green food. I chose spinach because it just wilts in at the end. However, I have used diced zucchini (or other summer squash), bell peppers, and eggplant. Saute them with the onion. Make it your own with what you have on hand or regularly purchase, and whatever produce is fresh and in season! My hope is that this “recipe” will become more of a “template,” and that you’ll be coming up with combinations that you and your family love…
P.S. It’s pretty amazing the next day for lunch… Just ask Mark (hubby)!
Easy One Pot Ground Lamb and Couscous
Fragrant One Pot Minced Lamb and Couscous combines Middle Eastern spices with dried fruit, spinach, and chick peas in the ultimate quick and healthy one-pot meal!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 small red or yellow onion chopped
- 1 pound lean ground/minced lamb
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp cayenne more or less to taste
- 1 cup broth/stock
- 1 can chick peas rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup dried apricots diced (see notes)
- 5 ounces fresh spinach large stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup dried couscous (see notes)
- fresh mint or cilantro, chopped pistachios or toasted almonds, lemon wedges to garnish
Saute onion and garlic with olive oil in a large saute pan (use one with a cover that fits) over medium-high heat until fragrant and beginning to soften.
Add minced lamb. Break it up (I like to use a potato masher).
Add the cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, and cayenne. Continue cooking until the lamb no longer shows any pink, and the pan has very little or no liquid. (See notes).
Add the broth/stock, chick peas, and dried apricots. Bring liquid to a boil.
Add the spinach to the pan, and stir it in a bit to encourage wilting.
Add the couscous, cover the pan, and remove from the heat.
Allow the dish to remain covered at least 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve with desired garnishes.
This recipe requires a "par-cooked" couscous (quick cooking). This is the type most typically found in US markets. If you substitute a different type of couscous, prepare according to the package instructions (still use broth rather than water), and omit the liquid from the rest of the dish. Stir in the couscous at the end.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 553 calories; 33 g protein; 58 g carbohydrates; 21 g fat.
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