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Minted Couscous with Pomegranate Seeds

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Couscous makes an easy, elegant platform for grilled chicken, pork chops, lamb, shrimp, or other main dish foods. Mint gives this version bright flavor, and pomegranate seeds add jeweled color and crunch. For seasonal variety, add freshly shelled English peas and toasted pine nuts in spring; diced peeled peaches and toasted hazelnuts in summer; diced Fuyu persimmons and toasted almonds in autumn, or tangerines and carambola (star fruit) with toasted macadamia nuts or toasted coconut in winter. Mint will work with any of these combinations. Olive oil adds richness and flavor. If you prefer, you can use less oil and the recipe will still work well.

NotesCHEF’S TIP: Toast couscous in a dry skillet to bring the natural oils and flavor to the surface and help it to absorb the liquid.

Turn a pomegranate flower end down and you’ll see a natural star pattern of ridges going top to bottom around the fruit. Score along those lines with a sharp knife and, working over a large bowl of water, carefully pull the thick skin apart to separate it into five or six sections.

With your hands under the water, pull the seeds off of the membranes. Small pieces of membrane will rise to the top, while the seeds will sink. After pulling off all the seeds, discard the large pieces of skin and membrane, pull the floating membrane pieces off the water, then scoop out the seeds with your hands into a small bowl.

Alternatively, look for plastic containers of the seeds, all ready to go, in the produce section of your supermarket.

Makes4 to 6 servings

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, healthy, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Taste and Texturecrunchy, herby, savory, tart

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup couscous
  • ¼ cup minced red onions
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds (see Notes)
  • ¼ cup fresh spearmint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Heat the couscous in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, gently shaking the pan, until the couscous begins to exude a toasty aroma, about 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan of boiling water from the heat, stir in the toasted couscous, cover, and let stand until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Use a fork to fluff the couscous into individual grains. (To make ahead, cool then refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 day. Reheat in a covered casserole in a preheated 350°F oven until warm, about 15 minutes.) Just before serving, stir in the onions, pomegranate seeds, mint, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Add salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste.

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