This Moroccan veggie couscous is packed with as many yummy flavors as it is nutrients. For this recipe, we’re adding oven-roasted eggplant to a mix of spiced carrots, butternut squash, onions and zucchini, all heaped on top of a big mound of couscous. Moroccan veggie couscous is so fun, tasty and light, even kids will enjoy a heaping serving. Just don’t tell them it’s healthy.
Traditionally, this dish would be made in a tagine, so if you have one, feel free to use it! We’ve created this recipe using a skillet so it can be made by virtually anyone.
If toasting almonds, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the almonds in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown (about 3 – 4 minutes). Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
Bring oven to 425 degrees F.
Wash the eggplant under cool water.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and then cut slits in the skin. Sprinkle salt over the eggplant flesh and place, flesh side down, in a colander. Set the colander over a bowl and allow the eggplant to drain for 10 minutes. Give the eggplant a quick rinse and pat it dry.
Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil, and lay the eggplant halves, flesh side down, on the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the tops and sprinkle halves with sea salt. Bake eggplant in the oven until tender enough that you can slide a toothpick in easily at both ends (about 30 – 45 minutes).
Remove baked eggplant from the oven and allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before handling.
Wash the squash under cool water.
Peel the squash skin and cut in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the squash into ½ – 1 inch chunks.
Wash the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Cut halves crosswise into ½ inch slices.
Wash and peel the carrots. Slice carrots into small rings.
Peel and mince the garlic and onions.
Set all vegetables aside.
Use a mortar and pestle to grind the saffron threads and any other whole spices.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onions and sauté until they soften and become translucent (about 5 – 7 minutes). Add the garlic and continue sautéing until aromatic (about 1 minute more).
Cook until spices release their fragrance (about 1 – 2 minutes).
Then add the following:
Cook for and additional 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (or until the carrots and squash are tender and a fork easily pierces the skin).
Pour in the broth and add the following:
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Mix in the saffron and cook the vegetables until the zucchini and chickpeas are tender (about 10 – 15 minutes more).
Stir in the eggplant and cilantro or parsley (if using). Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Remove from heat.
Cook the couscous according to the package directions.
For traditional Moroccan presentation, mound couscous on a large serving platter. Use a large spoon to create a dip in the center for veggies. Scoop vegetables out of the skillet and into the depression made in the center of your couscous. Use a ladle to drizzle broth over the entire mound.
Serve and enjoy!
Note: make this dish gluten-free by using quinoa in place of couscous.