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Citrus Asparagus Couscous

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.

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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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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Citrus Asparagus Couscous Recipe

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.

Citrus Asparagus Couscous

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

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.

Ingredients

Couscous

  • 1/2 lb asparagus, fresh
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup couscous

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash pepper

Garnish (optional)

  • 1/4 ounce cilantro, about 1/4 cup

Instructions

Prepare the Asparagus & Couscous

  1. Trim the asparagus just above the point where the green starts to fade to white. This is where the change from crispy to fibrous is most notable. 
  2. Discard the ends and chop the remaining asparagus stalks into one inch pieces.
  3. In a small lidded saucepan measure out the chicken stock and bring it to a boil over high heat. 
  4. Once boiling add in the couscous and the asparagus. Stir and cover with the lid. Turn off the burner and set the timer for five minutes.

Make the Dressing

  1. In 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. 
  2. Whisk to combine completely. The mustard adds a bit of spice, but also acts as an emulsifier which will keep the dressing from separating.

Assemble

  1. Chop up the cilantro, leaves and stems both.
  2. The five minute time for the couscous should be done and all of the stock should be absorbed. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.

Notes

If you dislike cilantro you can swap in basil or even fresh dill, adjusting the quantity for your own tastes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 345Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 346mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 13g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram and don't forget to #reneenicoleskitchen

Christine

Monday 3rd of April 2017

I've been eating so much asparagus lately! This looks like a super light and refreshing asparagus dish!

Renee Gardner

Tuesday 4th of April 2017

It's the perfect time of year for it!!

Karen @ Seasonal Cravings

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

Perfect light side dish for spring! Can't wait for fresh asparagus to come my way.

Renee Gardner

Friday 31st of March 2017

It's going to be worth the wait!!

Stephanie@ApplesforCJ

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

This sounds delicious and I love how quick it comes together. Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Renee Gardner

Friday 31st of March 2017

Thank you Stephanie! I agree!

Beth @ Binky's Culinary Carnival

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

What a nice idea for a different Springtime salad for all the picnics we will have this year! Pinning this one for later!

Renee Gardner

Friday 31st of March 2017

Thanks Beth! I think this one will be showing up at many of my BBQs this summer!

Debra C.

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

This sounds just wonderful, I love the bright citrus flavors. What a light yummy side dish!!

Renee Gardner

Friday 31st of March 2017

Thank you Debra!

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