June 29th, 2010

Curried Fruit Couscous, fast and cool


Listen, what if I told you that the festive-as-confetti salad above was created using the stovetop for, say, five minutes. That’s the time it takes to boil less than 2 cups of water, right? Five minutes of cooking.

Sounds pretty compelling, especially when you consider the oppressive, in-the-nineties heat that barged in last week like an unwelcome guest—and has yet to pack up and leave.

But credible?

BELIEVE! This Too Good To Be True recipe is bonafide: Healthy, full of intriguing flavors and textures, Curried Fruit Couscous also requires almost no cooking.


This fabulous recipe comes courtesy of Michele Watkins Knaus, a chef and food activist currently living in Portland, Oregon. She worked for me several years ago, filling in while my right arm Tonya was on maternity leave. Later, we catered Michele’s wedding, and this was one of her specialties that she asked us to prepare.

The basic recipe serves 6-8 generously, and readily multiplies: Doubled, Quadrupled, Times Twelve, Times Twenty—-it’s one of those caterer’s dream recipes that can be made in mass quantities with exceptional results.

You can serve it mounded in large bowl, or molded into pretty individual servings. Eat it by itself, or along with salad greens. Or, take it uptown: Use it as a foundation for fancy-pants grilled sea scallops, or butter-sauteed trout.


Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients. You already have some of the essentials in your pantry. For the rest, with a little forethought, and a quick trip to the grocery, you can assemble everything you need. The beauty of the dish is in the couscous itself.

Boiled water poured over the couscous in a bowl, stirred and sealed, cooks it to fluffy perfection. While the tiny pasta grains sit in that bowl, effortlessly absorbing the water, you can shred carrots, slice dried apricots, chop flat leaf parsley.


The dressing whisks up in a heartbeat. The yogurt binds the oil and vinegar, and serves as a terrific vehicle for the spice. Vegan friends can substitute a soy based yogurt; that’s all it takes to make it vegan friendly.


You may want to double the Curried Yogurt Dressing, and save half to drizzle over some salad greens, or grilled chicken, alongside your couscous.


The colorful array combines to make a satisfying summer dish, spice and sweet, fast and cool. Thanks, Michele!

CURRIED FRUIT COUSCOUS adapted from Michele Watkins Knaus

The Couscous
1 ½ cups Couscous
1 ½ cups Water
½ t. Kosher Salt

The Curried Yogurt Dressing
¼ c. Plain Yogurt
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 t. White Balsamic or White Wine Vinegar
1 t. Curry Powder
½ t. Turmeric
1 t. Kosher Salt
1 t. fresh ground Black Pepper
dash of crushed Red Pepper Flakes

The Salad Fruits-Veggies-Nuts
½ c. Carrots, shredded
½ c. Flat Leaf Parsley,coarsely chopped
½ c. Dried Apricots, slivered and diced
½ c. Golden Raisins
¼ c. Toasted Almonds, chopped
3 Scallions, chopped, green tops included

Place couscous into medium bowl . Add ½ t. to 1 ½ c. water and bring to a boil. Pour over the couscous and quickly stir. Cover tightly with plastic wrap—the couscous will absorb the water and be cooked in 5 minutes. Remove wrap and fluff with a fork.

Whisk together: yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry powder, turmeric, salt, black and red peppers. Pour over the couscous, and stir until all is well coated.

Add all the dried fruits, nuts, carrots, parsley and stir well. Serve in a large bowl, or make individual molds by pressing the salad firmly into a small bowl, and then invert onto a salad plate.

Serves 6-8


Posted in Pastas, Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Vegetables

14 Responses to “Curried Fruit Couscous, fast and cool”
  1. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    This looks like a great summer dish.

  2. Barbara Says:

    That looks colorful and delicious. Plus it looks easy enough that even I can prepare it!

  3. my little expat kitchen Says:

    Your dish looks fantastic! I really like couscous so this is right up my alley. Your dishes are always so colorful!

  4. Fluffy Says:

    any time i can get fluffy couscous my life is wonderful
    the color in your pictures is great
    what kind of camera do you use?

  5. Renee Says:

    Yum, yum, give me some!

  6. Nancy Says:

    So colorful! A wonderful combination for summer. That curried yogurt dressing sounds fantastic, too!

  7. Mary Says:

    Nancy, thanks for sharing this lovely recipe with us. The fact that it can be proportioned to feed large groups makes it especially appealing. I hope you are having a good day. Blessings…Mary

  8. Jenny Giovannucci Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I love fruit couscous and can’t wait to try your recipe –
    also enjoyed your last blog with the beautiful raspberry
    salad made with surprise raspberries. We just found a whole swath of black raspberries next to our little cabin in Saugatuck MI! I never would have thought of paring them with beets, but I tried your salad with fresh picked berries and it was fabulous!

    Thanks a bunch,

  9. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Fluffy—it’s a Nikon D-60, chosen as the only viable very special award out of all the other very special award options given to one who toiled in commercial real estate for 20 years…..but you know that!

  10. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…I can never be daunted by the array of ingredients you combine in your recipes. I love the way you lay everything out there for it too call us to your table.
    Couscous is so easy to make and fantastically versatile. When mixed with all those flavours…how could one not request such a delicious and well presented dish?
    Great recipe and fabulous photo shoot.

    Happy celebratory day and flavourful wishes,

  11. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Somehow I missed this one….this is the perfect hot summer dish with a chilled glass of vino blanco after the sun sets.

  12. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    This recipe is quite exciting and one that I am bookmarking. I like the combination of flavors, the zing from the vinegar with the sweetness of the dried fruit. And I especially like that it is fast and scalable. This recipe is a dream.

  13. claudia @ceF Says:

    nancy, what a gorgeous plate. absolutely perfect. and i love dishes like that, anytime. i could use a big bowl of that in my fridge to nibble on for about 3 days or so…

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