Vegetarian Couscous with Butternut Squash and Oven-dried Tomatoes

From Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

2014 Mar/Apr

This version makes for a great side dish or lunchtime salad with some greens. If you want to serve it as a main course, you may wish to add the chickpeas for some extra protein.


  • 12-14 large, ripe plum tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
  • 6 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. muscovado – unrefined brown – sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-1/2 c. diced butternut squash
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 package instant couscous
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 1-1/2 c. chickpeas from a can or bottle, drained (optional)
  • 3 T. each, chopped fresh tarragon, mint and flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1-1/2 T. lemon zest
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 300°F. Brush the tomato halves with 2 T. olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season lightly with muscovado sugar, salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray, cut-side up, and bake for as long as 2 hours; the tomatoes should shrink and start to lose their moisture. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and increase the heat to 350°F.

Toss the butternut squash in 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the squash starts to soften. In a frying pan, heat the remaining 2 T. olive oil on medium and sauté the sliced onion for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the cinnamon and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the couscous, adding saffron threads to the boiling water.

If you’re adding chickpeas, combine them with the couscous as you’re fluffing the grains.

Mix the roasted tomatoes, squash, and onion mixture together in a bowl with the fresh herbs and lemon zest. Add the vegetables to the couscous, trying not to over-mix. Season to taste. Serve warm or as a cold salad. Serves 4 to 6.