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Easy Italian Couscous Recipe With Minced Meat and Vegetables

I enjoy making delicious recipes and sharing them with others.

It tastes delicous and looks colourful - a serving of Italian couscous can be as cheap as AU70c per meal, depending on which ingredients you use and where you buy them.

It tastes delicous and looks colourful - a serving of Italian couscous can be as cheap as AU70c per meal, depending on which ingredients you use and where you buy them.

Looking for a recipe that's cheap, nutritious and involves hardly any effort to make?

I discovered this recipe at my local supermarket where a lady was making a traditional, everyday Italian couscous dish in an electric frypan over low heat. It smelled so good, I had to have a taste and excitedly scribbled down the recipe to try at home. She was promoting an expensive brand of pearl couscous, but eventually I found a far cheaper alternative in Turkish and Middle Eastern couscous varieties.

This is a fantastic meal option for people on a budget. It’s great in winter, very filling and you can make a whole week’s worth of meals in one large pot if you like. Kids love it and it’s easy to eat (hardly any chewing required). It’s nutritious, has an interesting texture, is very easy to make and offers a versatile main meal as you can use any meat, vegetables or herbs you might already have in your kitchen. Single people and students will love this recipe as well—it only has to be made once on the stove top then refrigerated/frozen in portions for all your meals, saving tons of time and money.

I have adapted the original Italian couscous to suit my taste, as the original recipe uses curry powder and more vegetables than I like. The everyday Italian couscous doesn’t have meat in it and this can get boring if you’re a carnivore and plan to eat it for a whole week at a time (I often do). However, you can stick to a vegetarian one if you like.

Why I Love This Recipe...

  • Easy and quick to make
  • Versatile
  • Cooked in one pot, on a stove
  • Nutritious and filling
  • Suits both singles and families
  • Travels well for work lunches
  • Freezes and microwaves well
  • Very affordable
  • Can be vegetarian if desired
  • Minimal washing up
  • Good winter meal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dry couscous
  • 1 handful of minced beef
  • 1 red or green capsicum
  • 1 truss tomato
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 brown onion
  • Spring onions
  • Parsley
  • 1 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 1 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • Fresh or dried herbs and spices

Obtaining the Couscous

Major supermarkets stock couscous at up to AU$7 per packet. If you hunt down a Turkish or Middle Eastern grocery shop, you can find packets of dried couscous for as little as AU99c a packet. This would be equivalent to 12 portions for AU99c—a terrific bargain!

Look for couscous around 3mm in diameter and it should be made from semolina durum wheat. The instructions should say to boil and simmer it. Some brands of couscous I like are Ankara (used for this recipe) and Ulker Bizim Mutfak.

I expect Italian grocers would stock this type of couscous too. If you're in a pinch, you can use pearl couscous, but it is more expensive (at least it is in Australia).

I used Ankara (Turkish) couscous for this recipe.

I used Ankara (Turkish) couscous for this recipe.

Step 1: Sauté Onions, Meat & Vegetables

Place one tablespoon of margarine in a large tureen on low heat. Dice the brown onion and add it to the pot, adjusting heat to medium. Stir occasionally until slightly browned. Meanwhile, chop capsicum, carrot and tomato into small bits.

When onion is a little browned, add 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil to the pot and add the minced meat. Stir/break up meat with wooden spoon and cook, stirring until all meat is completely browned. Add capsicum and tomato and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add carrot. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then add 1 cup of couscous to the pot. Stir for about 1 minute, letting couscous soak up oils and flavours. Do not allow couscous to burn.

Notes: You can use any minced meat you like, though beef mince gives a lovely flavour with vegetables. I add the carrot last because the capsicum and tomato are for flavour, but I like my carrots to be a bit solid rather than boiled mushy in the final result.

Step 2: Simmer & Flavour

Add 3 cups of water to the pot and stir. Turn heat up to high, boil mixture, then reduce heat to low/medium simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the herbs and spices (chop up parsley and spring onions and add to pot, while reserving some for garnishing).

The couscous will expand in size as it simmers. If you need to stop the mix from burning, just add half a cup of water at a time. You'll know it's ready when it is a much larger size and turns a bit translucent. Taste test it to see if it is soft—it should be very soft.

Notes On Herbs & Spices

You can add any combination of herbs and spices you like. The original Italian couscous recipe uses 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder and some dried basil, oregano, black pepper, salt and a vegetable stock cube.

It's fun to experiment with this—add heat or flavour to suit your taste! Don't forget to test taste your results to avoid overdosing...I've accidentally made a few funny couscous dishes before and overdoing the curry powder is awful.

Herbs & Spices In This Recipe

This particular recipe tastes absolutely delicious and required the following herbs and spices:

  • Beef stock cube
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp powdered nutmeg
  • A couple of chopped fresh basil leaves

Herbs & Spices Inspiration

SeasoningsHerbsSpices

ground peppercorns

basil

cumin

sea salt

sage

nutmeg

curry powder

dill

paprika

stock cubes

chives

crushed chillies

tomato paste

coriander

za'atar

garlic

rosemary

fenugreek

chicken salt

oregano

celery seeds

lemon juice

mixed herbs

 

vinegar

mint

 

black pepper

lemon thyme

 

More Ideas

Try the following recipe variations:

  • Lamb mince, eggplant, mixed herbs and a hint of sage and nutmeg.
  • Try adding a handful of sunflower or pistachio seeds to sautee with the onion.

Get Ready to Eat!

The final outcome is a couscous dish that is self-contained, a bit like a risotto. There should be no runny liquids (stir the mixture and liquids should "vanish") and you should be able to spoon it out into a bowl or onto a plate easily and add a garnish. If it's too runny, keep it simmering for longer, though you can lose delicate flavours by doing this.

Makes 4 generous servings. Double the amount of ingredients in this recipe for a week's worth of dinners.

A beautiful couscous meal - packed with flavour, meat and vegetables. Notice how I like my carrots slightly underdone? These preserve flavour and nutrition.

A beautiful couscous meal - packed with flavour, meat and vegetables. Notice how I like my carrots slightly underdone? These preserve flavour and nutrition.

© 2015 Suzanne Day

Comments

Sp Greaney from Ireland on June 28, 2020:

Looks good. It's nice that it can all be cooked in the one pot to. Those are one of my favourite ways of cooking.

Suzanne Day (author) from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on March 02, 2019:

Sounds like a good plan!

Liza on February 24, 2019:

Interesting recipe, but I will use Israeli pearl couscous as I have it already.

TANJIM ARAFAT SAJIB from Bangladesh on March 03, 2016:

I always love to eat Italian dishes. So this hub is really an exciting and encouraging one for me. The recipe shown in the pictures are telling me why I should give it a try! Also I’ve heard from a few people that have eaten this recipe that it is really delicious!!! All the required ingredients and the making steps are shown in detail. You can make the dish just by following the instructions of this hub. So I think we should not waste any time but get straight into the task of preparing this great Italian recipe!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 18, 2016:

Great meal. I would love to try this recipe with TVP or ground turkey this winter. Thanks for the delicious meal idea in this lens!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 12, 2015:

I like this recipe and you taught me how to do it.

Audrey Howitt from California on November 29, 2015:

This looks yummy--and easy to make--a winning combo for me

Elena from London, UK on July 25, 2015:

Thanks for a healthy Recipe. Very easy to make and it's brilliant that you included the step by step photos.

Paula on July 22, 2015:

Nice recipe. Easy to make I like the way you've presented it as well. I never had couscous, but I think I might give it a try now with this recipe.

Have a nice day :)

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on July 18, 2015:

This recipe looks like it would be full of flavor and texture, Suzanne.

Yummy, I am sure. - Kudos!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on July 02, 2015:

I'm excited about this recipe because (except for the couscous) I have all the ingredients all the time. By the way, your photos are absolutely gorgeous.

Claudia Mitchell on May 15, 2015:

This looks quite lovely and delicious. I love meals like this and cous cous is easy to make. Nice hub recipe!

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on May 04, 2015:

Wow Suzanne, this was a magnificent recipe, ***** ummmm a super rating, I could imagine the smell and taste. I love eating healthy meals like that. What a life. Keep it 100 too. Voted up!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2015:

I absolutely love meals like this and your couscous recipe looks and sounds great. I don't usually associate curry powder with Italian meals but do enjoy a good curry flavor. Will have to play around with this recipe. I happen to have some couscous in our pantry. Up votes and happy to share.

Suzanne Day (author) from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on April 20, 2015:

Hi Peachpurple, you can have it as a side dish to a main or just eat as a main. Since it is so filling when made with the minced meat, I tend to have it as a main course. However, if you were to eat it as a side dish, you could have it with pide, yogurt, simit, sucuk, eggs, dip or pickled vegetables alongside a main with meat.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 20, 2015:

looks very easy to cook. Do you eat with any other side dishes?

Suzanne Day (author) from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on April 14, 2015:

@Anamika, you can try it with chicken mince and some complimentary herbs like sage or lemongrass ;)

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on April 14, 2015:

Thanks for sharing this! I will try with chicken as all the ingredients are easily available in the market. Shared this hub on twitter as well!

Suzanne Day (author) from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on April 13, 2015:

@poetryman, ANY meat will suffice. The meat is not essential to this dish but it adds flavour for carnivores.

@MizBejabbers, I don't see why not. Just add a sufficient volume to allow a good mix of meat/veg with quinoa.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 13, 2015:

It sounds delicious. I am always open to new recipes for Mr. B to cook for me, however, I have a gluten-wheat allergy, so could I substitute quinoa? Thanks.

poetryman6969 on April 13, 2015:

Looks tasty. I will need to look into this minced meat thing. It looks like ground meat would suffice?

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 13, 2015:

I like to keep lentils and barley cooked up to help prevent diabetes and this looks like a perfect dish to add it to! Thanks so much.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 13, 2015:

You know, I have never tried couscous but this makes me want to do just that. It seems simple and must be overflowing with flavor.

Thank you for sharing.

Voted up++++ shared and pinned to Awesome HubPages

Angels are on the way to you ps

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 12, 2015:

This is one of those dishes I've heard about all my life but never tried. Thanks for the education. You just might be the impetus I needed.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 12, 2015:

I particularly liked how you added the variations and reasons why you like the recipe. Looks good and the photos are bright and beautiful, too. Voted up and more.