Lemon-scented vegetarian couscous

couscous plate vegetarian

Coriander, lemon, and four kinds of vegetables make a mouth-watering vegetarian couscous.

Natural locavores, good Middle Eastern cooks take pleasure in seeking out the very best and freshest vegetables in the open-air markets, transforming inexpensive local ingredients into delicious traditional foods. Some examples include mulukhiya (our mulukhiya recipe here) and couscous.

While couscous is often served with meat of one kind or another for gala events, homey vegetarian versions are served as everyday fare. Here, couscous is a foil to vegetables carefully seasoned with herbs and spices, while chickpeas add satisfying protein.

A whole preserved lemon (our recipe for preserved lemons here) adds bright flavor to the light stew.

Lemon-Scented Vegetarian Couscous

serves 4-6


2 Tablespoons olive oil

Juice of one whole lemon
2 tablespoons  tomato puree
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne flakes, according to taste
4 tomatoes, quartered
2 red bell peppers, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup dried apricots, quartered
1 walnut-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely
2 zucchini,  sliced thickly
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves  garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon honey or date honey
1 preserved lemon, chopped
A handful coriander, chopped


In a large saucepan, heat the the olive oil . Add the lemon juice, tomato puree, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne flakes, tomatoes and bell peppers. Stir well. Lower the flame to the lowest and cook, covered,  for 30 minutes.

Add the almonds, dried apricots, ginger, and garlic. Stir well. Cook a further 15 minutes, always on very low heat.

Finally add the chickpeas and zucchini and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the zucchini are cooked through. Just before serving, add the preserved lemons, honey and chopped coriander; mix them in well.

Make couscous according to package instructions. Spoon the vegetables over a mound of prepared couscous and serve.

More About Eating Vegetarian:

5 Vegetarian Myths

Vegan Couscous and Roqaq Recipes

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3 thoughts on “Lemon-scented vegetarian couscous”

  1. KadyM says:

    That looks delicious… and I bet the lemon gives it a real tang, too. Thanks so much!

  2. Ilana-Davita says:

    Thanks for telling us about world vegetarian month. I didn’t know this but will try to post vegetarian recipes only in October then.
    I believe I’d love your recipe as it includes lots of ingredients I am fond of such as chickpeas, cilantro and preserved lemons.

  3. Miriam, this looks really good!

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