Couscous with Vegetables and Beans


If you want a spicier couscous, use more harissa. I prefer to make a mildly seasoned stew and let guests add more harissa to taste. I use chickpeas most often for my couscous stews.

1½ cups dried chickpeas, white beans, or other beans of your choice, soaked in 2 quarts water for at least 4 hours (or do the quick soak; or 1½ cups black-eyed peas (no need to soak)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
¾ teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly toasted and ground
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
A bouquet garni: a few sprigs each parsley and cilantro
Vegetables of your choice (see variation recipes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
1 tablespoon harissa, or more to taste; plus additional for serving
2 cups uncooked couscous

  1. Drain the soaked beans and place in a large saucepan with 2 quarts water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and the spices and stir together until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the beans and their broth, the bouquet garni, and the vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil and add the tomato paste, harissa, and salt to taste—at least 2 teaspoons. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are very tender and the broth aromatic, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Taste and adjust salt. Remove a cup of the broth to mix with the couscous when you reconstitute it.
  3. Reconstitute and steam the couscous. Serve the couscous in wide bowls or mound onto plates and top with the stew. Pass more harissa at the table.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: Most tagines benefit from being made a day ahead and will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. See specific recipes.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS: If you are gluten intolerant and can’t eat couscous, which is a semolina product, you can still enjoy the stews in this chapter. Add 1 to 1½ pounds potatoes, sliced or diced, to the stews. Serve in wide bowls, without the couscous. Or serve the stews as they are, with cooked millet or quinoa.