The cous cous is a traditional North African dish, particularly from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. With its unique flavour and its culinary versatility, cous cous makes it possible to create different recipes and to embark on a journey through new and fascinating flavours and cultures.  The recipes proposed in this article, the cous cous Trapanese style and the Sardinian cascàare the traditional Sicilian and Sardinian dishes respectively. Le cous cous recipes represent a perfect combination of Arab and Italian culinary influences.

Cous cous: first some useful or interesting information

History of Couscous

Couscous is a food born between the 11th and the XIII century in North Africa, present-day Morocco and Algeria. The Berbers, an ancient indigenous people of North Africa, are considered the forerunners of this delicacy. In fact, the word 'cous cous' comes from the Berber language and refers to the small size of the semolina grain used to prepare it.

World outreach

The cous cous è food traditional, the plate national, by Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya eMauritania. È very popular also in Africa West, at France, at Belgium, at Near East, atBrazil, at Jordan, Lebanon e Palestine. In Italy, cous cous is prepared in Sicily, in the province of Trapani, and in Sardinia, on the islands of San Pietro and Sant'Antioco.

Beyond at cous cous which us all we know exists also the cous cous Israeli o maftūl. This yesdifferentiates from cous cous either for the ingredient by departure e either for the form. The maftoul is realised with thebulgur, the wheat hard integral sprouted which maintains the bran, cooked first to the steam e then crushed.

How to prepare couscous

Couscous, on the other hand, consists of from grains by semolina by wheat hard coarsely ground. The grain is first cleaned of impurities and then covered with water. It is then processed to form rather large balls, which are then passed through the grain. at sieve to form a finer grind. The resulting cous cous is dried to remove moisture and any grains. Once ready, it is taken to the market to be consumed.

How do you cook couscous?

The cous cous which we find in for sale in the supermarkets generally è already cooked at steam e then dried. In fact, it says on the packaging to put it at a bowl e pour above water boiling or broth, covering then the bowl with a lid. The cous cous in a few minutes you inflates and it isready to be served with meat, fish or vegetables.

Cous cous recipes #1: Trapani-style cous cous

Cous cous alla Trapanese is a dish of Maghreb origin and one of the most popular in Trapani cuisine. But while in Morocco cous cous is cooked by adding vegetables and meat, in Trapani it is seasoned with vegetables and fish.


3 hours

50 minutes





Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 500 g squid
  • 500 g mussels
  • 500 g clams
  • 500 g prawns
  • 300 g of couscous
  • 300 g of gurnard
  • 300 g sea bass
  • 300 g sea bream
  • 300 g tomato pulp
  • 1 onion
  • 50 g chopped almonds
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sachet of saffron
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 4 tufts of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • fine salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil q.b.


  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 fine-mesh sieve
  • 1 chef's knife
  • 2 casseroles
  • 1 large pan
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 kitchen scale

How to prepare cous cous alla Trapanese

  • Step 1: pulistics and fish cutting. Wash the gurnard, sea bass and sea bream under running water. Then gut them and remove the central bone and head of each fish. Discard the entrails and set the bones and heads aside. Cut i fishes a small slices and delete the plugs.
  • Step 2: puling and cutting of seafood, crustaceans and molluscs. Place the clams in a bowl with water and a handful of coarse salt. Clean the mussels. Shell the prawns by removing the intestines with the help of a toothpick and keep the head and shell aside. Clean the squid and cut them into rounds.
  • Step 3: preparation of the comic strip. Peel the onion and cut it into four parts. Wash the celery and cut it in half. Put the onion, celery, bay leaf, fish scraps, heads and shells of prawns in a pot. Cover with cold water and cook over a gentle heat for about 1 hour. After this time, strain the stock.
  • Step 4: cfilling of the sauce. In a large saucepan put two turns of extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic and parsley and sauté for a couple of minutes then add the tomato and let it season with salt and pepper for a couple of minutes. Add the squid and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes over a low flame, covered with a lid. Add the fish fillets, saffron, paprika and chopped almonds and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Finally add the prawns and cook for a further 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  • Step 5: cclam filling. Place a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a parsley stalk and the well-drained clams in a saucepan. Cover with the lid and cook for 5 minutes, until they have completely opened. Shell them and add them to the fish sauce. Strain the cooking liquid and add it to the fish stock.
  • Step 6: cclogging of mussels. In a saucepan, place two turns of extra virgin olive oil, two parsley stalks and the mussels. Cover with the lid and cook for 5 minutes, until they have completely unfolded. Shuck the mussels and add them to the fish sauce. Fthe cooking liquid and add it to the fish stock.
  • Step 7: ccous cous filling. Place the cous cous in a bowl and add the hot fish stock until it is covered. Let it stand for 10 minutes covered with a lid.
  • Step 8: impiattamento. Grain the cous cous with a fork and season it with the fish sauce.

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Trapanese couscous

Cous cous recipe #2: Cous cous with vegetables (cascà alla Carloforte)

Couscous is a typical dish from Carloforte and Calasetta, two small towns located on the islands of San Pietro and Sant'Antioco respectively in southern Sardinia. The inhabitants of Carloforte and Calasetta brought couscous to Italy between 1500 and 1700 during the colonisation of part of the Tunisian territory. Once brought to Italy it was revisited in fact, cascà differs from Tunisian cous cous in that it does not include meat but is seasoned only with vegetables.


3 hours

30 minutes




Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 250 g of cous cous
  • 200 g dried chickpeas
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 bunch of wild fennel
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • fine salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves
  • extra virgin olive oil q.b.


  • 1 kitchen scale
  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon

How to make cous cous with vegetables (cascà alla Carloforte)

  • Step 1: cchickpea filling. Soaking in cold water dried chickpeas for 12 hours. Drain them and cook them in cold water for 2 hours or until cooked.
  • Step 2: ccourgette, carrots and cauliflower. Wash the courgettes and carrots and cut them into rounds. Wash the cauliflower and cut the florets off the central stem. Peel and chop the onion. Wash the fennel. Put two turns of extra virgin olive oil and the onion in a frying pan. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the courgettes, carrots and fennel, season with fine salt and black pepper and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat.
  • Step 3: caubergine filling. Wash the aubergine and remove the ends. Cut it into cubes and place it in a bowl covered with coarse salt so that it loses all its water for about half an hour. In a frying pan, add two turns of extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic, fry for a couple of minutes and add the aubergines, well cleaned of salt. Cook the aubergines for 10 minutes over a low flame.
  • Step 4: ccous cous filling. Bring 125 ml of water to the boil and add a pinch of fine salt. When the water boils remove from the heat, add the cous cous and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Allow the cous cous to swell (it will take about 10 minutes) then return it to the heat and add the butter and stir.
  • Step 5: impiattamento. Remove the couscous from the heat, add the vegetables, a pinch of cinnamon and cloves and serve.
Cous cous with vegetables casca Carloforte style

Cous cous recipes: final considerations

Cous cous has the ability to combine with different ingredients and culinary traditions, thus becoming a symbol of union and cultural mixing. From a simple base of durum wheat semolina, endless combinations of flavours, fragrances and ingredients are born to suit everyone's taste. Whether served with vegetables, meat or fish, couscous is always a journey for the senses. So experiment, create and be won over by this dish full of history and flavour.


© Photos of Trapani-style cous cous: Donna Moderna Food

© Photos of cous cous with vegetables (cascà alla Carloforte): La Cucina Italiana

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