Flavorful grilled vegetables and chicken are tossed with quick-cooking couscous. chick peas, slivered almonds, and sweet dried apricots, then seasoned with ras el hanout (Moroccan spice mix), lemon juice, and olive oil in this quick and healthy one-dish Moroccan Couscous Salad With Grilled Veggies & Chicken!
He who eats when he is full, digs his grave with his teeth.
~~ Moroccan proverb
Eating mindfully is my mantra as a health-conscious middle-aged woman. I enjoy food the most when I’m working out regularly, and eating healthfully. I don’t believe that approach involves sacrifice; on the contrary, it fosters creativity.
I love to play with new flavors. One relatively new item in my well-stocked pantry is ras el hanout. Spice mixes are perfect for adding depth and complexity with less time spent digging through the spice drawer and measuring. Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that varies from kitchen to kitchen, but typically contains cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander, cayenne, salt, and pepper. You may find it at your local market (it is becoming more widely available) or make your own ras el hanout with spices you probably have in your kitchen…
Moroccan Couscous Salad With Grilled Veggies & Chicken is super versatile. I have made variations of this recipe from rotisserie chicken (such a great time saver!), from the grilled chicken that we grill on Sunday afternoons for the week’s lunches, and from marinated and grilled chicken prepared fresh that evening.
Grilling the vegetables adds the depth of flavor that other cooking methods don’t provide. Roasting them is another good option, but it’s summer, and why heat up the kitchen? This time, I used a gorgeous Graffiti Eggplant, cubed butternut squash (pre-packaged is a great time saver!), and Cherub tomatoes. The mild flesh of the graffiti eggplant does not require the generous salting and waiting period required by large eggplants to remove the mouth feel that many find to be unpleasant. Simply remove the stem end and cube it.
The tomatoes, cubed butternut squash, and eggplant cook in about 10 minutes on the grill. An optional addition (but worth the effort) is a red onion cut in thick slices and grilled with a couple of green chiles and the lemon. You can certainly skip this step, but it really is a delicious addition!
Moroccan food quite often combines sweet, savory, and spicy, and this dish is no exception. I have specified sun-dried apricots in the recipe, but have used currants, raisins, dates, and dried cherries as well. Pick your favorite. You can use either “regular” couscous or Israeli couscous. Be sure to cook it according to the package instructions. I prefer to use chicken or vegetable stock rather than water as it bumps up the flavor. Lastly, toasted slivered almonds and chick peas add textural interest, and after tossing it all together, garnish it with a bit of chopped cilantro and/or parsley. A crisp, unoaked viognier was a perfect pairing with this one-dish meal, and both were perfect on a breezy summer evening on the patio!
Interested in learning more about flavor profiles? Check out Flavor Profiles. If you like the flavors in this dish, you might like Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Cherry Salad (very similar), Moroccan Sweet Potato Pie (shepherd’s pie with a twist), or Moroccan-Style Chicken Couscous (more of a stew dish). The warm spices and exotic flavors of this cuisine make it one of our favorites! I hope you’ll give it a try. 🙂
- 4 cups vegetables for grilling see notes
- 1 medium red onion, cut in 1/2" thick slices
- 2 serrano or jalapeno chiles (optional)
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- chicken stock/broth
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- several grinds ground pepper
- 1 cup Israel couscous
- juice from grilled lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound cooked chicken (see notes)
- 1 can (or 2 cups cooked) chick peas
- 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup parsley and/or cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- Prep the vegetables for grilling. The goal is to get them to a similar size so that they grill about the same time and fairly quickly. I used about 1 1/2 cups 1/2" cubed butternut squash, cubed graffiti eggplant, and Cherub tomatoes. They were on and off the grill in 10 minutes.
- Bring water or broth to a boil (see couscous package instructions) for 1 cup couscous. Add the ras el hanout, turmeric, salt and pepper, and couscous. Cover and remove from heat.
- Bring your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the cubed veggies in a grill basket. Grill the onion slices, chiles (if using), and lemon halves alongside. Grill the veggies until they have a good amount of caramelization. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cube the chicken, toast the almonds, and chop the cilantro and/or parsley.
- Chop the grilled onion. Stem the chiles (if using), remove the seeds, and mince.
- When the couscous has had the required time to absorb its liquid, fluff with a fork.
To Make Salad
- To a large salad bowl, add fluffed couscous, cubed chicken, grilled veggies, onion and chiles, drained chick peas, toasted almonds (reserving a few for garnish), herbs (reserving a bit for garnish), and chopped apricots or other dried fruit.
- Squeeze the juice from the grilled lemon into a small prep bowl. Add the olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Whisk it together. Drizzle over the salad, and give it a really good toss.
- Garnish with a few of the toasted almonds and herbs.
4 cups +/- can include cubed zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, eggplant, grape tomatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. The key is to cut them small enough to cook quickly. The butternut squash I cut in 1/2" dice, and it cooks in under 10 minutes on the grill with diced eggplant and grape tomatoes.
Cooked chicken can be grilled, rotisserie, leftover, etc. I prefer chicken breast in this recipe, but the choice is yours.
Moroccan cuisine features lots of dried fruits. I've specified dried apricots, but dried cherries, currants, raisins, golden raisins, dates, would all be delicious!
Macro nutrients (approximate from MyFitnessPal): 507 calories; 29g protein, 50g carbohydrates, 30g fat. Nutrition information is based on 5 servings. These are generous servings.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 577 Total Fat: 16g Carbohydrates: 90g Protein: 19g