How to cook Couscous?
Here's a basic recipe for couscous: http://wholefoodsmarketcooking.com/recipes/11154_basic_couscous
Best way is with a "couscousier", a pot specifically designed for that purpose---specifically the method is steaming and you can cook your protein in the lower half and it steams up to flavor and cook the couscous. Otherwise you can cook it in a steamer basket lined with cheese cloth, but steaming as opposed to boiling is preferred.
I saw a Patricia Wells method many years ago and now only make regular couscous her way, though I don't know how much, if any, I've adapted it over the years - it doesn't work for hand rolled or Israeli couscous. Put 1 cup couscous in a microwave safe bowl, and add a pinch or two of salt. Mix. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil and mix with a fork. Add 1 1/4 cup water (not boiling!) and let sit for 10 or 20 minutes, stirring occasionally with the fork. Cover and microwave two minutes and fluff with fork.
Steaming is definitely the best way--and the most traditional. But you don't have to have any protein in the lower half of the steamer, or even anything very flavorful. In North Africa, there might be vegetables--especially root vegetables--in the basket, while in Sicily (yes, in Sicily there's a couscous tradition too) it's often just boiling water with lemon quarters and bayleaves adding their flavors to the couscous in the basket above.
Sicilia, always occupied never conquered. Yes indeed, they have absorbed the methods of North Africa as well as those of the Normans and the Jewish diaspora. Sardegna, kind of the same, with their own version of couscous, fregola.
I read the directions on the couscous package.
I think couscous is one of the quickest things to make. Just boil 1/3 water and add together with some oil. No boiling or work afterwards.
Try the long way, twistandsnag, and you'll see why most good cooks prefer that. Short cut is okay for school lunches, et cetera, but taking the time to steam and toss gives a magnificent texture and brings out the flavor of the grain in a way that exalts whatever is put with it, meat, fish, or vegetable.
The traditional Syrian arab way that I know is to do it the simple way I described earlier. I don't necessarily see it as a short-cut to be honest. Good quality products will yield an excellent result this way