Squash and Chickpea Couscous

final dish

Happy 2022! Is it one of your resolutions to cook more this year? Something that inspired me was a new cookbook I received as a gift for Christmas, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. This book is full of vegetarian recipes and was a great way for me to reset after the holidays. The couscous dish I have here used a ton of different ingredients I had never cooked with before: harissa, saffron, star anise, and more. It was fun to start the year with new flavors and it made this dish extra exciting to me.

The couscous recipe here is adapted from the Plenty cookbook, based on what I could find at my local grocery store. There may be some ingredients here that you cannot find so I have listed some substitutes I found while prepping. This recipe does require quite a few ingredients and some time so I suggest prepping on a Sunday.


  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients: serves 4-5

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into circular chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into circular chunks
  • 5 shallots, peeled and diced (the original recipe called for 8 so feel free to add more!)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (I had a lemon infused sea salt that I used)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2.5 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (can use golden raisins if you cannot find apricots)
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup of the liquid in the chickpea can (helps to strain out before adding in the chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, boiling
  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into tbsps
  • 1 tbsp harissa (add more if you like the spice!)
  • zest of one lemon (the original recipe called for preserved lemon but you can also use lemon zest and sea salt as a substitute)
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • pinch of saffron (can substitute with turmeric)


Start by preheating the oven to 375 F. Add the carrots, parsnips, and shallots to a large casserole dish, along with the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, olive oil, salt, ground ginger, turmeric, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Mix together and cook in the oven for 15 minutes

Mix together the vegetables and spices in a casserole dish

After 15 minutes, add in the butternut squash and cook for another 35 minutes. Then take it out and add the apricots, chickpeas, liquid from the chickpea can, and water. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Add in the chickpeas, apricots, chickpea liquid, and water

While the vegetables cook, prepare the couscous. Start by boiling the vegetable stock on the stove. Pour the couscous in a heat-proof bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of saffron (or turmeric), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the boiling stock to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then add in the pieces of butter, whisking into the couscous mixture. Once the butter is fully melted, cover the bowl back up until ready.

Cook the couscous in a heat-proof bowl

When the vegetables are done cooking, take them out of the oven and add the harissa, lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt. Mix together well.

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the harissa and lemon zest

To plate, spoon the couscous into a bowl and top with the vegetables. Add fresh cilantro leaves if desired.

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