Although couscous is essentially tiny round pasta, I think it’s incredibly versatile once you figure out the right ways to jazz it up. There have been too many times where I’ve been alone in the kitchen with a box of couscous staring at my refrigerator looking for something to make it a little less…beige. I’ve had successes (sautéed carrots and chickpeas with roasted red pepper sauce over couscous anyone?) and I’ve had -er- not successes (coconut couscous pudding, someday I will win). Regardless, this is a recipe celebrating a victory of mine in the kitchen with couscous. Truly, this it was the happiest of accidents! In terms of pearled vs. normal couscous, I used to absolutely hate the pearled kind, but in the case of this recipe, I think it really works. So do me a favor and try it, but if you really can’t, I understand. We all have texture issues. The salad will be just as good with normal couscous. In case anyone was wondering I’ve now typed couscous so many times in the course of writing this post it doesn’t feel like a real word anymore.
Cook the couscous like pasta: Fill a medium saucepan about 2/3 of the way with water, add some salt and a little olive oil, and bring to a boil. Add couscous and let simmer for about 8 minutes (until al dente.)
While couscous is cooking, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet on medium until golden.
Heat oil over medium heat, sauté onions, thyme sprig, and garlic until aromatic. Add olives and pine nuts and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cooked couscous, salt, and pepper. Combine well. If using, top with feta cheese and serve warm.
Rebecca Firkser is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Edible Manhattan, Extra Crispy, The Strategist, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl.