Dinner With My Family #27: Crock Pot Couscous

Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.

One challenge my wife and I take on (and something that I post about in this series roughly once a month) is the challenge of converting unusual recipes into something that’s delicious straight out of the crock pot.

Many people look at a crock pot as a device for cooking roasts and stews, nothing more, nothing less. That’s simply not true. You can prepare all kinds of meals in it, setting them up in the morning and enjoying them when you walk in the door in the evening. They’re perfect for busy families who love home-cooked meals but often are severely time-challenged.

This time around, we’re preparing a couscous dish right in the crock pot.

What You Need
Here’s what you’ll need:

1/4 cup onion, minced (or 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes)
2 carrots, chopped
1 large tomato, diced or 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked chickpeas or 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, cooked
1/4 cup vegetable stock or 1 vegetable boullion cube
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup raisins

The couscous is actually prepared separately. You’ll need 1 cup dry couscous and 2 cups water to prepare it.

The Night Before (or Early That Day)
Most of the work for a dish like this is done in the morning. You’ll need to do any vegetable preparation you need to do, first of all.

Next, use nonstick cooking spray on the inside of the crock pot (or thoroughly rub the insides of the crock pot with vegetable oil). Add all of the ingredients except for the couscous and water to the crock pot and turn it on low for six to eight hours.

Couscous in the crockpot

Preparing the Meal
When you’re ready to eat, get a saucepan out and boil 2 cups of water in it. While the heat is raising, stir the ingredients in the crock pot, then turn it off and let it sit.

When the water is boiling, add the couscous to the water, put the lid on, and let it boil for five minutes. The couscous should absorb the water. After the cooking, you can optionally add a teaspoon of butter or margarine to the couscous, mixing it in with a fork.

Finished couscous

Mix the couscous with the other ingredients in the crock pot, then serve! We served it with a very simple salad and it was quite delicious (I had seconds).

Finished couscous plate

Optional Ingredients
Unlike many of the recipes I post, I wouldn’t modify this recipe very much at all. This dish relies a lot on the flavor balance between the ingredients, so if you’re interested in this recipe, I’d stick to the ingredients as closely as possible.

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23 thoughts on “Dinner With My Family #27: Crock Pot Couscous

  1. Julie says:

    This would not fill me up. If I were vegan or vegetarian, I’d have to have some additional vegetables to go with this. Maybe tofu. Otherwise, a nice piece of salmon or chicken would be good.

  2. mary w says:

    I don’t get it. Unless you don’t have a stove why would you make this in a crockpot instead of just boiling water the regular way?

  3. valleycat1 says:

    Julie – there’s a very similar recipe online (without raisins) that says one serving is 147 calories. So with that tiny salad, it’s, at most, 250 calories.

    Other than giving the seasonings a long time to simmer together, I don’t really see why you’d use a crockpot for this. You could put the veggies on the stovetop to cook, then make the salad, then start the couscous. By the time it’s ready the veggies would be heated up. I prefer crock pot recipes where you just throw everything in and 8 hours later take the top off & serve.

  4. tana says:

    recipe looks tasty but couldn’t u take the time to make it look more appetizing? the photos make it look kinda grody.

  5. tana says:

    recipe looks tasty but couldn’t u take the time to make it look more appetizing? the photos make it look kinda nasty

  6. Brittany says:

    I don’t understand why you don’t just put the couscous in the crockpot too. If the goal is to reduce time spent cooking over the stove and/or heat generated, cooking the couscous separately nullifies both of those. As valletcat1 pointed out, it would take just as much time to prep the veggies on the stovetop as it would to cook the couscous, so there’s no advantage of doing one stovetop and one crockpot. I’d also probably throw in some protein, like some lightly cooked soybeans or white beans, for nutrition and satiety.

    I’ve also gotten very creative with my crockpot as well. In Texas in the summertime, anything that keeps me from having to turn on the stove (much less the oven) is a major plus. I’ve been using it a lot for beans and whole grains for meal salads.

  7. Katie says:

    For meat eaters, chicken thighs would be perfect in this (and I agree that, without that, this’d be easier to do on the stovetop). Brown them before putting them in the crockpot, and slightly increase the amount of seasoning to compensate.

  8. Gretchen says:

    I think the point is to let all the flavors meld together, which is why I personally don’t like the crockpot.

    I wouldn’t think the tomato would hold up very weel.

  9. Brittany says:

    Canned tomatoes are fine in a crockpot, but I’d never waste a delicious fresh tomato but cooking the hell out of it in a crockpot. I might chop it up and stir it in hot last minute though.

  10. Gretchen says:

    Well. Hold up very well.

  11. KathyF says:

    Brittany: The recipe already has some beans in it-15 oz of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)so there is the protein.

    I have cooked couscous and the directions I use are to bring the water to a boil, stir in the couscous, cover and remove it from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. I was surprised to see instructions say to boil it for 5 minutes. It seems like you would lose too much of the moisture needed, that way.

  12. kristine says:

    This sounds FANTASTIC! I am going to use this recipe.

  13. Ann says:

    I use my crock pot so much in the summertime. I cannot bear to turn on the stove for more than a few minutes, for fear of melting away. I’ll definitely try this.

    I also want to express my appreciation for all the vegetarian recipes you include, and for busting the myth that eating healthy has to be expensive. Thank you!

  14. kk says:

    Looks delicious. I make something similar in my Dutch oven. I would cook the couscous separate as well. Couscous only takes a few seconds to prepare when you add hot water to it. I’ve even made it with heated water from a water cooker. If you put it together in the crockpot you run the risk of the concoction getting too dry. Chickpeas/garbanzo beans are a source of protein by the way. And it looks like some soy based yogurt or sour cream was added, which also adds to the nutrients of the dish. Thanks for sharing.

  15. deRuiter says:

    A pressure cooker would do the vegetables in a couple of minutes, most of the time with the heat of stove turned to “off” position, very economical. Pressure cookers are amazing when it comes to shortening cooking time, even for dried beans and you can do the presoak of the beans in pressure cooker too, with pressure cooker sitting on the counter. This recipe doesn’t need the crockpot. A fine, large pressure cooker can be bought with a little hunting, at a yard sale or flea market. They are coming out in droves from the World War II and 1950s families who are breaking up their homes due to death or moving to assisted living. You can pick up a pressure cooker, (get a large one and the smaller size too!) for $5. or under. Make sure you get the pressure jiggler and the metal plate inside which keeps the food / canning jars from touching the bottom of the pot. Some even come with the little paper cook book which was packed with the pressure cooker decades ago. You will love the speed with which you can cook food, you will save time and fuel with a pressure cooker. I use our pressure cooker for canning pint and half pint jars of low acid food, just process at specified time at specified heat and turn off heat, let steam go down by itself and you’re done.

  16. Carole says:

    I agree with deRuiter, I like a pressure cooker, and over the years have used it more than a slow cooker. However, they both have their place.

  17. Kim says:

    Beans again? Every recipe is starting to look the same to me.

  18. BirdDog says:

    I’d like to know how Trent’s weight loss efforts are going. If he only eats the amounts he shows in most of these dinner with my family posts, he should be down to about 110 pounds by now.

  19. Elle says:

    What’s with all the snarky comments? I like the variation on a theme. Veggies and beans are dietary staples at my house, too.

  20. Tammy says:

    I’m going to be making this tomorrow night, but despite the warning not to, I will be adding in more veggies plus some chicken sausage. I will throw in the couscous (raw) a half hour before serving time to avoid dirtying another dish.

  21. Kyle says:

    Not a very appetizing picture.

  22. Evita says:

    This is a recipe for one person ? such tiny amounts of food! one cup of cooked beans cannot feed a whole family…..

  23. Kathryn says:

    Having to eat gluten free, i couldn’t do the couscous. I would have to substitute quinoa or something else. But the recipe looks good and i’d like to try it, when i’m off my current diet. I have lost 20 pounds so far, so i’m excited. The hCG diet is a miracle.

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