September 13, 2012

Couscous with Figs, Apricots & Pistachios

For the last month or two, I've been on a hunt for one particular seasonal item every time I visit the farmer's market: fresh figs.

Each time I went, I would think to myself: surely they'll have figs this week, they must be ready by now!  So I would start planning all the delicious things I would make with my figs when I got home, but each week, I came home disappointed and empty-handed.

Finally, last week my wish was granted and I was able to buy a small container of ripe black mission figs.  I ate some of them for breakfast - either sauteed with pears, or mixed into yogurt - and the rest of my figs went into this couscous dish.

I was inspired by Moroccan couscous dishes that usually combine dried fruit, nuts and fresh herbs.  So I put together a mixture of fresh figs, dried apricots, pistachios, and fresh parsley, along with some ginger, shallots and cumin for extra flavour.

I really liked the mix of fresh and dried fruit in this dish.  The figs were so juicy and sweet and tasted even better after being sauteed so they were nice and tender, and the pistachios added even more richness and texture.  I tend to be fussy about fresh parsley, but I actually thought it went really well with the other ingredients here and helped to brighten the dish up.

I used very little dressing, just adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of olive oil to the couscous.  I did find it a bit dry though, so feel free to add an extra drizzle of olive oil.  Another option could be to serve this with some plain yogurt, or a sweet chutney - I tried eating my leftovers with a couple spoonfuls of mango chutney on top and loved it that way!

I thought this was an interesting and really tasty way to use up my figs, and it would make a great side dish for Fall meals.  Although knowing my luck, fresh figs will probably be gone from the market already by this weekend, so I might have to wait until next year to make this again!

Couscous with Figs, Apricots & Pistachios

2-3 tbsp raw pistachios, shelled
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1/2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin
2/3 cup dry couscous
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
6-8 fresh figs (black mission), quartered
Honey or agave syrup (optional)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Plain yogurt, mango chutney or another fruit chutney for serving (optional)

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the pistachios and toast for a few minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add shallots and ginger and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until shallots have started to brown.

Add water to the saucepan and stir in the cumin.  Bring to a boil, then stir in couscous and apricots.  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the small skillet again to medium and spray with cooking spray.  Add the quartered figs and drizzle with a bit of honey. Let cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

When couscous is done, lift lid and fluff with a fork.  Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, 1 tsp olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Mix in the pistachios and figs. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with a spoonful of yogurt and/or chutney if desired.

Serve warm.

Makes 2 servings.

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert, & Dogs and Healthy Vegan Fridays


  1. I wish I could have tried more than a spoonful of this, it was so yummy! I'm going to have to look for figs myself next time, who knew they're so good!

    1. I know, I can't believe how few figs I've eaten in my lifetime! Glad you liked your spoonful haha

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! Figs seem to pair well with lots of other fruits - I liked the fig-pear combination I tried too!

  3. You should have named this Heather Couscous - this is so my kind of meal - the sweet and savory combo is my favorite...and I am so jealous that you have fresh figs - we don't have them here in Nh :(

    1. haha...Heather couscous would be a much simpler title for this post! I'm surprised you don't have any figs, although I'm not actually sure where mine came from - probably not local

  4. I finally tried figs for the first time this month! But I think maybe they weren't ripe? They weren't sweet at all and tasted kind of musty! This is definitely a beautiful dish, though--it makes me want to try figs again!

    1. Oh that's weird. The figs that I had were really dark on the outside and brown with a bit of green on the inside. They were definitely sweet and juicy and some were already over-ripe when I bought them. I hope you can find some better ones to give them another chance!

  5. This looks fabulous - I wait all year for the first fresh figs of the season!

    1. Thanks! I usually only see the big crates of figs, which I can't eat all myself before they go bad, so I was glad to find a smaller container this time!

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