This butternut squash coriander couscous, loaded with coriander and lemon juice, sprinkled with rose petals and flavoured with ras el hanout is an aromatic side to any North African inspired dish. Ready in 40 minutes!
A dream of Morocco
I’ve never actually been to Morocco, despite the fact that I am experimenting with some of their most traditional ingredients. I can only imagine the colourful spice markets, the souk, beautiful architecture, artful ceramics and being filled with blue happiness in Chefchaouen. It’s clear enough to me that Morocco is at the top of my travel list, together with Portugal and Myanmar.
My obsession for spices
I bought ras el hanout powder ages ago, in one of my spice shopping sprees. When they happen, I usually go to specialised shops and buy every single spice or spice mix I’d never heard of before. I then store all of them obsessively in my spice cabinet, in boxes with pink lids and clear tag. I then arrange them depending on their type and geographical origin. I’ve collected over 80 different spices and spice blends, and I am constantly being asked if I use them all. The answer is: of course! I will, eventually, at some point in time, use each and every one of them. It may not be today, nor tomorrow, but it will happen… eventually!
This is actually how got to almost finish my ras el hanout blend. I’ve had it in my spice cabinet for so long and never really had an opportunity to use it. However, when that opportunity arose, I indulged in my stash until I almost finished it. I love ras el hanout! It contains all of my favourite flavours: cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cardamom… It’s kind of sweet, but pungent and oh my, does it work with this couscous!
If you don’t have some already and wish to make it yourself (trust me, homemaking spice blends is not all that hard!), here’s a recipe.
- 1/2 small butternut squash, cut in small cubes
- 1 tsp ras el hanout
- 4 shallots, quartered
- 1 tbsp rose petals
- 4-5 garlic cloves, skin on, slightly crushed with a knife
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups of couscous
- 30g fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 handful of pistachios to sprinkle on top
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven at 200ºC.
- Mix the butternut squash, ras el hanout and rose petals.
- Place baking paper in an oven tray and add the butternut squash mix. Add the shallot quarters and whole garlic cloves and spread them around the tray.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the butternut squash is tender, but not burnt.
- Cook the couscous with 4 cups of water, by simmering it for 15-20 minutes, until the water is gone.
- Once everything is done, simply mix all the remaining ingredients together and add the squash to the couscous. You can remove the garlic cloves.