Whether you need a simple side dish for a quick weeknight dinner or an impressive salad for an upcoming BBQ, this citrus asparagus couscous has you covered.
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We all know that the key to eating right is to have healthy meals that can be prepared quickly. The only thing I love more than an entree that comes together in less than thirty minutes is a side dish that comes together in less than ten.
This citrus asparagus couscous is one of those side dishes. It combines the bright flavors of orange and lemon, with the green herbaceous, almost grassy flavors of fresh spring asparagus.
Served up warm as a simple side for a quick weeknight dinner, or make it ahead of time and share it cold at your next get together with family and friends. No one really needs to know how easy it is to make!
If you aren’t familiar with couscous, the first thing to learn is that it originates from Northern Africa and that here in the USA you will typically find two types: pearled couscous and standard couscous (usually just labeled “couscous”.) Both are actually forms of pasta, but they are different sizes and require different cooking techniques.
Pearled couscous, which I put to use in my Summer Veggie Couscous with Sauteed Tilapia, is prepared more like pasta. Boil water, stir in the couscous, and then simmer over low until it’s tender. Standard couscous, which we use in today’s recipe, is made more like instant rice. Bring water to a boil, stir in couscous, remove from heat and let it absorb the water while sitting in a warm location.
In today’s recipe we swap the water for chicken (or vegetable) stock and add the asparagus right in at the start. The result is an al dente couscous and a slightly tender, but still crispy, asparagus. Since the asparagus is barely cooked, I highly recommend that you choose the thinner asparagus stalks, as the thicker ones will still be pretty raw with this preparation.
Start by trimming your asparagus. Some people like to snap off the ends, but I prefer to trim them with my favorite chef knife. Find the section of the asparagus where the green starts to fade to white. This is where the change from crispy to fibrous is most notable. Line up your asparagus and trim off the bottoms just above this point. Discard the ends and chop the remaining asparagus stalks into one inch pieces.
In a small lidded saucepan measure out the chicken stock and bring it to a boil over high heat. It shouldn’t take long. Once boiling add in the couscous and the asparagus. Give it a quick stir, cover it with the lid and turn off the burner. If you are cooking with gas you can leave the pan right where it is, but if you are using electric shift the pan to another burner so that it doesn’t overcook. Set the timer for five minutes.
While the couscous is hydrating and the asparagus is softening, it’s time to make the dressing. Grab a medium sized mixing bowl – one large enough for tossing the dressing with the couscous and asparagus. Measure out the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine completely. The mustard adds a bit of spice, but also acts as an emulsifier which will keep the dressing from separating.
Chop up the cilantro, leaves and stems both, and set aside. If you dislike cilantro you can swap in basil or even fresh dill, adjusting the quantity for your own tastes.
Your five minutes should be up by now and all of the stock should be absorbed. Add the couscous and asparagus mixture in with the dressing, then pile the cilantro on top. Toss to coat the couscous and veggies with the dressing. Citrus asparagus couscous can be served up immediately, or you can chill it and serve it cold. For best flavor store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Citrus Asparagus Couscous Recipe
Citrus Asparagus Couscous
- 1/2 pound asparagus
- 1 cup water (chicken stock, or vegetable broth)
- 1 cup couscous
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash pepper
- 1/4 ounce cilantro (about 1/4 cup)
- Trim off asparagus ends, then chop into one inch pieces.
- In a small lidded saucepan bring the water or stock to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous and the asparagus. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit for five minutes.
- In a medium to large sized mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Chop cilantro leaves and stems.
- Add the couscous and asparagus mixture in with the dressing, along with the cilantro. Toss to combine.
- Citrus asparagus couscous can be served up immediately, or you can chill it and serve it cold.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the Citrus Asparagus Couscous Story.