This is bound to be your new favorite couscous recipe: Tender, charred vegetables are seasoned Moroccan-style with ras el hanout and cinnamon, roasted to tender perfection, and served over a bed of fluffy couscous. Roasted vegetable couscous is the perfect vegan dinner!
Looking for a good way to use up those late summer vegetables? Well, look no further! Roasted Vegetable Couscous will make your zucchini, squash, peppers, and carrots shine for a vegan dinner feast!
This vegetable couscous recipe is inspired by a traditional Moroccan dish, Seven-Vegetable Couscous, which typically consists of a medley of stewed vegetables (and sometimes meat) served with couscous. I went a different route by roasting the vegetables, which is a great hands-off way to let them cook to tender, charred perfection while you work on other things.
With this recipe, once your veggies are chopped, the hard work is over. Simply roast them in a pan with seasonings like ras el hanout and cinnamon for a warm Moroccan flair, and serve them over a bed of light, fluffy couscous. Top with dried apricots and slivered almonds for a subtle sweetness and a little crunch.
This vegetable couscous is plenty filling to stand on its own with the abundance of vegetables, couscous, and protein-packed chickpeas. But you can also pair it with lamb or roast chicken.
Table of Contents
What is couscous?
Couscous is a North African staple and often used ingredient in the Mediterranean pantry. It is often mistaken for a grain, but couscous is actually a pasta because it's made from crushed durum wheat. There are two types of couscous:
- Instant couscous (often referred to as Moroccan couscous) are tiny granules of semolina flour made from either processed or whole wheat durum flour.
- Pearl couscous is made of small pearl-sized balls of toasted semolina flour.
In this recipe, I use instant couscous, which is par-cooked, so it's fast to prepare ready to eat in about Simply add it to boiling water or broth, cover and remove from the heat. Fluff with a fork when all the liquid is absorbed.
You can use either regular or whole wheat Instant couscous in this recipe. It just depends on your personal preference. To learn all the ins and outs of making couscous check out our guide to cooking perfect couscous every time.
Ingredients for vegetable couscous
In addition to instant couscous, bright seasonal vegetables and warm Moroccan spices like ras el hanout come together to create a hearty, nutritious, comforting vegan dinner. Here’s what you’ll need to make roasted vegetable couscous:
I love that you can use whatever seasonal vegetables you have in your fridge or garden for this recipe. Try to fill your roasting pan with vegetables of different colors, textures, and flavors for a well-rounded dish. Here’s what I used this time:
- Yellow squash
- Red bell pepper
- Chickpeas: I used a 15-ounce can of chickpeas for a shortcut, but you can cook dried chickpeas if you prefer. You’ll need ½ cup dried chickpeas or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas to replace the canned chickpeas. Be sure to budget enough time for this, as cooking chickpeas from scratch takes a few hours.
- Tomatoes: A 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes works well here. These whole canned tomatoes are sweet and juicy. You can swap them out for Roma tomatoes if you have lots of fresh tomatoes to use up.
Feel free to change things up! Use broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, mushrooms, turnips, cabbage —basically, any vegetable you can roast can be thrown in here! The flavor will be different, but it will be just as hearty and taste just as delicious!
- Ras el hanout: This complex North African spice blend contains fenugreek, allspice, cumin, and more.
- Red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper: Use red pepper flakes for more heat. Aleppo-style pepper is very mild, and ever so slightly sweet and tangy.
- Ground cinnamon: With its heady fragrance and potent, woody flavor, cinnamon pairs well with ras el hanout for even more warmth.
- Fresh ginger: A 1-inch piece of ginger adds a nice spicy kick, as well as a bit of sharp sweetness.
Cooking with dried fruit and nuts is a hallmark of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. Here’s what I used to garnish my vegetable couscous:
- Dried apricot: I chopped up and sautéed some dried apricot until it was warm and caramelized to amplify its sweetness. You can also use dates, dried figs, raisins, or prunes.
- Almonds: Toast some slivered almonds for crunch to add texture to balance the tender vegetables. You can also chop and toast other nuts of your choice.
- Cilantro or parsley: I’m a big fan of finishing off a dish with a large handful of fresh herbs. Chop up some cilantro or parsley for a pop of color and a fresh herbal element.
How to make roasted vegetable couscous
This vegetarian recipe has a long ingredient list but that doesn't mean it's complicated or difficult to make.
Start by roasting your vegetables. While they cook, soak the couscous and prepare the dried fruit and toasted nut garnish. Combine everything, and voila! A gorgeous, saucy meatless dinner! Here’s more detail about how to make roasted vegetable couscous:
- Salt the eggplant. Cut 1 small eggplant into 1-inch cubes and toss them into a colander with a big pinch of kosher salt. Set the colander in a clean sink and allow the eggplant to sit while you work on the remaining vegetables. Salting the eggplant briefly helps it to “sweat out” some of the bitterness and will make the texture more velvety as it roasts, as opposed to spongy or slimy.
- Prepare the other vegetables. Cut a large onion, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, and carrots into large chunks. Place the veggies into a large baking dish with 3 cloves of minced garlic. Season with kosher salt and toss. Wipe the eggplant dry and add it to the baking dish. Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of chickpeas and toss that into the baking dish as well.
- Season the vegetables with 2 teaspoons ras el hanout, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, and a good pinch of black pepper. Drizzle about 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat.
- Broil the vegetables. Place the baking dish about 6 inches from the broiler. Broil the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until they have a nice char. Remove the baking dish from the oven and switch the oven to baking mode at 400°F.
- Roast the vegetables. Add to the baking dish a 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes, 1 cup of water or vegetable broth, and a 1-inch piece of ginger that you’ve grated. Sprinkle another ½ teaspoon ras el hanout and a little more EVOO. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the vegetables are tender (30 to 45 minutes).
- Soak the couscous. While the veggies are in the oven, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Season with kosher salt before adding 2 cups of dry instant couscous. Immediately turn off the heat and cover the pot. Don’t disturb the couscous for about 10 minutes. Once the couscous absorbs all the liquid, fluff it with a fork and set aside for now.
- Prepare the dried fruit and nut garnish. Warm a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in a small pan. Add ½ cup dried apricots and cook. Toss frequently, until the apricots are warmed through and caramelized. Add ½ cup slivered almonds and toast until they’re golden-brown. Remove from the heat.
- Assemble the vegetable couscous. Transfer the couscous to a large platter. Top it with as much of the roasted vegetables as you can. Add the caramelized apricots and toasted almonds, and finish with a generous sprinkle of fresh cilantro or parsley.
Serve it with
With the abundance of vegetables, loads of chickpeas, and couscous, this vegan dish is more than satisfying to serve by itself.
But if you’re looking for some crunch, whip up a side salad while the vegetables roast. I like a light salad, like my 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad or Shirazi salad.
I typically serve this as a meatless dinner, but if you’re looking for a meat-based protein boost, chicken pairs really well with vegetable couscous. Try it with baharat baked chicken thighs or Moroccan chicken.
Make ahead tips
If you want to do some prep ahead of time, go ahead and roast the vegetables up to 2 nights ahead of time. The flavors will meld better the longer the veggies sit.
When you’re ready to assemble the vegetable couscous, all you need to do is reheat the vegetables in the oven, and follow the recipe as written from there.
How to store and reheat leftovers
This is a great meal to make when you need dinners for a couple of nights, because it yields A LOT and keeps very well in the fridge!
Simply allow leftovers to come to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a large skillet over medium heat until warmed through.
More instant couscous recipes
Roasted Vegetable Couscous
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks
- Kosher salt
- 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 zucchini, cut into large 1-inch chunks
- 1 yellow squash, cut into large 1-inch chunks
- 1 sweet red pepper, cored and cut into chunks
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (15- ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 ½ teaspoons ras el hanout, divided
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 (28- ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes with their juices
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1- inch fresh ginger, grated
- ½ cup dried apricot, chopped
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup cilantro or parsley, to finish
For the couscous:
- 2 cups couscous
- Put the eggplant cubes in a colander and season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Set the colander in a clean sink and allow the eggplant to sit while you chop the remaining vegetables.
- Cut the remaining vegetables into chunks and put them in a large baking dish with the minced garlic. Season with kosher salt and toss. Wipe the eggplant cubes dry and add it to the baking dish with the rest of the vegetables. Add the chickpeas. Season with 2 teaspoons ras el hanout, the red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and a good pinch of black pepper. Drizzle about 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat.
- Turn the broiler on. Spread the vegetables well in the baking dish so they are not overlapping. Place the baking dish about 6 inches from the broiler. Broil the vegetables, watching closely for them to char nicely on top (about 5 minutes, but watch carefully so the veggies don’t burn).
- Remove the baking dish from the heat briefly and switch the oven to the baking function at 400°F.
- Before returning the vegetables to the oven, add the tomatoes, broth (or water), and ginger. Season with a little kosher salt and the remaining ras el hanout. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Cover the baking dish with a large piece of foil and bake on the center rack of your heated oven anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking, work on the couscous. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Season the water with kosher salt. Stir in 2 cups dry couscous. Turn the heat off and cover the pot and leave the couscous alone for about 10 minutes. Once the couscous has absorbed all the water, fluff it up with a fork before serving.
- Prepare the apricots and slivered almonds. In a small pan, warm a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Add the chopped apricots and cook, tossing frequently until warmed through and caramelized. Add the slivered almonds and cook until they are golden brown. Remove from the heat.
- Assemble the vegetable couscous. Transfer the cooked couscous to a large round platter. Top the couscous with as much of the vegetables as you can. Add the apricots and almonds, and finish with a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley.
- Serving ideas: You don't really need anything alongside this dish -- it's plenty filling on its own! But for some crunch, serve it with a light salad, like my 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad or Shirazi salad. If you want a meat-based protein, try it with baharat baked chicken thighs or Moroccan chicken.
- Make ahead tips: You can prepare and roast the vegetables up to 2 nights in advance. When you're ready to assemble the vegetable couscous, simply reheat the veggies in the oven and make the couscous.
- How to store and reheat leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet until warmed through.
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