Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Couscous
on Jan 23, 2020, Updated Feb 11, 2024
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Lemon and herby, this harissa roasted cauliflower couscous has a little bit of everything, and it all works beautifully together. While the cauliflower roasts in the oven, you make the herb oil, which is a combination of fresh parsley, cilantro, chives, lemon juice and olive oil. The couscous cooks in 5 minutes, and then you combine it with the roasted veggies and herbs.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
It involves roasted cauliflower. I know I’m not the only one who loves the transformation that happens to this special, nutritious veggie when you roast it. It becomes nutty with caramelized, toasted edges and is so tasty.
The harissa marinade is a quick and easy way to add a ton of flavor. That’s what makes it such a great pantry ingredient. Right out of the jar, harissa, plus a few other additions, really enhances the cauliflower.
You can serve this as a vegan side dish or main dish. It’s completely up to you depending what you’re in the mood for, and if you’re serving anything else with it or not.
This is what you need:
- Cauliflower: The head of cauliflower you chose shouldn’t have any dark spots. It should feel heavy for its size when you pick it up. The color of the cauliflower can be white, orange, purple or green.
- Harissa is a spicy red chili paste from North Africa. It’s a combination of chile peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices. You can find it with the Middle Eastern food in the international aisle at the grocery. Some brands come in mild or hot versions.
- Couscous may look like tiny grains, but technically it’s pasta made from semolina flour. This is another ingredient commonly found in North African cuisine.
- Parsley, cilantro and chives are the mix of fresh herbs that are responsible for a lot of flavor in this recipe. If you aren’t a cilantro person, then leave it out and use more parsley and chives instead.
- Cumin, salt and pepper season the harissa marinade. I also mix salt and pepper with the herb oil because this is such an easy way to season the overall dish.
- Lemon: To add some brightness, I squeeze fresh lemon juice into the herb oil.
- Olive oil: Use high-quality extra virgin olive oil for the best taste.
How To Make Roasted Cauliflower Couscous
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil.
1. Marinate the cauliflower. In a bowl that’s big enough to hold all the cauliflower florets, whisk together the harissa, oil, salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower and stir it around until it is coated in the marinade.
2. Arrange the cauliflower on the sheet pan. It should be in a single layer and not overlapping.
3. Roast the cauliflower. Give it 20-25 minutes to become crisp tender and browned at the edges. Flip it over halfway through roasting, so both sides make direct contact with the hot metal of the pan.
4. Make the herb oil. Combine the parsley and cilantro leaves, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Puree the mixture until the herbs are finely chopped. It should turn out bright green.
5. Make the couscous. In a large bowl, combine the couscous and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Use a fork to comb through the couscous. Stir in the herb oil.
6. Fold the roasted cauliflower into the couscous. You can sprinkle on additional chopped herbs before serving.
You can’t go wrong with a simple side dish that’s couscous, rice or another grain mixed with roasted veggies. You can change that feature vegetable depending on the season. Then as mentioned, this recipe can be a side dish or main dish. Just increase or decrease the serving size depending what else is on the table.
Also, if you don’t need the dish to be vegan, you can add roasted chicken, shrimp or salmon if you want a protein to turn it into a main.
Storage & Leftovers
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 days. The cauliflower will soften more the longer it sits. You can reheat the couscous in the microwave if you want to eat leftovers warm. I also like stirring in arugula and a splash of vinaigrette and eating it cold like a salad.
Do not line the pan. Lightly greasing it with oil is enough for the cauliflower not to stick. You will find that the veggies brown better when they make direct contact with the pan.
Use fresh lemon juice. This is true for any recipe and any type of citrus juice. You will get the best taste when you squeeze it from the fruit rather than pouring it from a bottle.
The couscous will absorb the boiling water in 5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to let it sit longer. Otherwise when you comb it with a fork, it will be harder to get rid of any clumps.
More Couscous Recipes
Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Couscous
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup olive oil and more for greasing pan
- 1/4 cup harissa paste
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 head cauliflower leaves removed, bottom stem trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices and broken into small to medium pieces
- 1 cup parsley leaves plus more chopped for serving
- 1 cup cilantro leaves plus more chopped for serving
- 2 tablespoons minced chives plus more for serving
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 cup boiling water
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a sheet pan with oil.
- In a large bowl, stir 1 tablespoon oil, harissa, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- Add the cauliflower to the harissa marinade. Stir it around, so it is coated in the mixture.
- Spread the cauliflower across the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until it is tender and browned at the the edges, flipping halfway through roasting, about 20-25 minutes.
- While the cauliflower roasts, make the herb oil. Combine the parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, lemon juice, 1/3 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a food processor or blender. Process until the herbs are finely chopped, and the oil is bright green.
- For the couscous, combine the couscous grains and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Use a fork to comb through the couscous, breaking up any clumps.
- Stir the herb oil into the couscous.
- Then fold in the roasted cauliflower. Top with chopped herbs before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.