Vegetables and Sides

Couscous with Almonds, Raisins and Saffron Onions

Recipe courtesy of Joyce Goldstein, Mediterranean Fresh (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008) Photo courtesy of Andre Baranowski

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 4 1/8 cups water
  • ¼ tsp. saffron
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Freshly grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • About ½ cup basic citrus dressing (see below)
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or mint, for garnish

For the basic citrus dressing

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions for the citrus dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.


  1. Put the raisins in a small bowl, cover with 3 cups hot water, and set them aside to plump.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the saffron with 1/8 cup water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from the heat and steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Heat the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil in a medium sauté pan and cook the onion over the medium heat until tender and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the saffron infusion and orange zest and simmer 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Place the couscous in a 9-inch baking pan or Pyrex baking dish. 
  5. Combine 1 cup water and the orange juice, spices, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour over the couscous and cover the pan tightly with foil. Let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  6. Drain the raisins well. Toss the raisins, onion, almonds, and citrus dressing with the couscous. Adjust the seasoning and add salt to taste. Place on a platter or in a bowl and top with parsley or mint. You may garnish this with slices of melon or other fresh fruits or lettuce leaves if you like.
Time Level Yield
20 minutes Easy 6-8 servings