A Legit Couscous Bowl + A Giveaway!

Couscous Bowl - A savory spiced couscous bowl with seared cheese, red pepper and a tangy yogurt sauce. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!


A Legit Couscous Bowl + A Giveaway!

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It’s a rare day that Betsy is drawn to a cookbook. I get new books every week and she will typically just transfer them from the mailbox to my inbox.

A book I got a few weeks ago though, Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon, was different. When I first looked at it, it was already dogeared! Somebody had earmarked about a dozen recipes.

Sure enough. Even my non-cook wife was drawn to this beauty of a book.

I made this delicious Couscous Bowl recipe from it first. I think what I like most about these bowls is that they can be eaten for any meal. We ate them for dinner one night, but I could see them working fantastically for a lazy brunch or even a weekday lunch.

Check out how to make these Lebanese inspired bowls and read on to enter to win a copy of the book!

Fried Halloumi Couscous Bowl

Serves 4 as a side
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A savory spiced couscous bowl with seared cheese, red pepper and a tangy yogurt sauce. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Recipe lightly adapted from Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon.


1 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
1/2 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons za'atar spice
3/4 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper
8 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice

Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup Labne or yogurt
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
Pinch of salt


1) In a medium pot, heat water until simmering. Stir lemon zest, cinnamon, coriander, za’atar spice and couscous together in a bowl. Once water is bowling, add couscous mixture, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.

2) Fluff couscous with a fork after it rests and then stir in parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olive oil, and pepper.

3) For yogurt sauce, stir together ingredients and set aside until needed.

4) For cheese, slice halloumi into 1/4-inch slices. Add olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add cheese slices and sear for 2 minutes per side until nicely browned and crispy on the outsides. Serve sprinkled with lemon juice.

Pile couscous in a bowl (or divide it between four bowls) and arrange cheese slices around the outside. Garnish with yogurt sauce and extra chives and za’atar seasoning. This recipe makes a great dinner for two as-is.

Couscous Bowl

Couscous Gone Crazy

Umm… here’s the thing. Couscous is bland. I’ve always liked how light and fluffy it can be, but sometimes it can be just a bit blah.

This couscous is not that couscous. Megan’s recipe jam-packs spices and add-ins in with the couscous that take it to another level.

Delicious add ins for the Couscous Bowl
Delicious add ins.

See that little spice dish there? That’s za’atar spice which is used heavily in this recipe. Actually the original Couscous Bowl recipe called for three tablespoons, but I reduced it to two because my spice blend was dried and therefore a bit stronger.

Megan gives a recipe for a fresh za’atar spice in the book and if you made that, you could go full strength on it.

Before you cook the couscous, stir the spices in with the dried couscous. The lemon zest is completely essential. Not optional.

Lots of spices for the Couscous Bowl
Lots of spices.

Couscous cooks quickly. In fact, after you stir it into the boiling water, cover it and take it off the heat entirely. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then fluff it with a fork for perfectly light couscous.

Then you can stir in the olive oil, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. The colors are awesome and it will smell amazing!

Love the colors in this Couscous Bowl
Love the colors.

While your couscous rests you can work on the other part of the dish which was my personal favorite.

Getting Cheesy

Most people tend to think of melting as a good quality for a cheese. But not always. Some cheeses don’t melt at all or very little and while that makes them really bad choices for enchiladas, it makes them perfect choices for this dish. Because we are going to pan fry the cheese in thick slices, choosing a cheese that doesn’t melt is pretty essential.

The original recipe calls for a sheep and goat milk cheese called halloumi. If you can’t find that, there are a few other options that won’t melt and fry nicely. I used a Mexican cheese called Panela that has very similar characteristics. It’s a semi-hard cheese that is sturdy and doesn’t really melt at all.

Couscous Bowl - A few cheese options...
A few cheese options…

So, if you can find halloumi, use it. Whatever you do, don’t use mozzarella.

To fry the cheese, add a small drizzle of olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the cheese slices for about 2 minutes per side. They should be very golden brown and crispy on the edges.

Seared! - Couscous Bowl

While the couscous is resting and/or cheese is frying, you can mix together your sauce quickly.

The original Couscous Bowl recipe just called for plain yogurt but I used labne which is a creamy cheese yogurt situation that I love. Either will work fine.

Good sauce for the Couscous Bowl
Good sauce.

Finishing off the bowls isn’t hard. Pile in the couscous mixture and top with a few slices of cheese. Then dollop on the yogurt sauce and garnish the bowls with extra parlsey and za’atar seasoning.

You can serve this in individual bowls or pile everything high in one large bowl and serve it family style.

Get in the bowl! - Couscous Bowl
Get in the bowl!

Betsy and I ate this Couscous Bowl for dinner one night and it was so good. Definitely one of the better couscous dishes I’ve had.

A winner for sure.

The Giveaway

Gord_WholeGrainMorningsNow your chance to be a winner!

I’m giving away two copies of Megan’s book, Whole-Grain Mornings. I’ll pick two winners next Saturday (03/08). Unfortunately, I can only ship the books to a U.S. address.

To enter, just leave a comment with your favorite breakfast grain!


Congrats to Andy (#67) and Merry Morgan (#16) for winning the giveaway!

107 Responses to “A Legit Couscous Bowl + A Giveaway!” Leave a comment

  1. It isn’t sexy, but I always have two kinds of oats in my pantry – rolled for smoothie thickening, and Irish Steal Cut for breakfasts. So delicious!

  2. I know I can’t win & that’s OK, but I had to comment! I just fell in love with this recipe, & this book. It’s going on my “Books to get” list :-) For breakfast, I’d normally do oats, but a multi grain one with oats, rye, wheat & barley. Something else I love to do is make a “risotto” style bowl using barley. This is tasty done either savoury or sweet – YUM!!!

  3. Oats! My two most common breakfasts are yogurt with granola or muesli, or a bowl of hot hotmeal.

  4. We put on grits in the rice cooker or steel cut oats and they come out creamy and yummy…mmmmm. Thanks as always for your interesting and actually usable posts.

  5. My favorite is steel-cut oatmeal, but it takes so long to make that it’s become a treat more than an everyday breakfast.

  6. Love this recipe– Its very middle-eastern and exactly the type of thing I would eat for breakfast while living in Israel!

    I love a good quinoa with my breakfast– Quinoa and eggs are great together!

  7. Oatmeal! Although I much prefer it as muffins or scones, but in a pinch hot oatmeal is also delicious.

  8. I want to say amaranth just to be different, but in truth, I have to say my favorite is steel-cut oats.

  9. Grits! My southern grandmother got me hooked on them..stone-ground white grits, with butter, cheese, a little hot sauce,and whatever other add-ins you so desire. Yum!

  10. Lately I’ve become obsessed with savory preparations of steel-cut oatmeal. There’s an oatmeal recipe in the Sriracha cookbook that I’ve adapted for steel-cut, and it’s amazing topped with a fried egg or a dollop of Greek yogurt.

  11. I am definitely NOT an oatmeal fan unless it’s in oatmeal cookies! My grain of choice for breakfast is corn in the form of corn tortillas filled with an egg scramble with lots of add ins.

  12. Steel cut oats…someone posted how to make them a 10 minute morning happening! They need to be cooked the night before then completed the next morning ,am looking for the instructions, not finding them!!! I thought it was Macheesmo who posted the method???

  13. I love doing oatmeal in the crock pot on sundays so I have breakfast ready for the whole week, just add milk everyday and go!

  14. Oats! Rolled. Softened with a little water from the tea kettle and a drizzle of maple syrup. Or 1/4c in a smoothie with 2 bananas, 2T cocoa powder, 3T PB, 1/2c milk. Yummm.

    Cheese grits are also a divine Sunday brunch tradition in my house.

  15. Hmmm…oatmeal is what we have most often, but we’ve also really enjoyed the occasional quinoa breakfast bowl, those can be quite unexpectedly tasty and different!

  16. I have to admit, I’m pretty plain – it’s hard to beat oatmeal for breakfast for me. I’ll mess around with various fruits, nuts and sweeteners, but time and time again I turn to good old oatmeal in the mornings.

  17. Im not a fan of wheat beers so i stick with Oatmeal stouts…best only to have a couple in the morning.

  18. Right now, I’ve been loving savory oatmeal for breakfast, using steel-cut oats. I could definitely see this recipe as a great breakfast!

  19. For breakfast my go -to is definitely oats. We love to do jars of overnight oats or if we have a lot of time on a weekend morning steel cut oats can’t be beat! I’m horrible with grains though… they’re intimidating to me.

  20. Steel-cut oats. Always and forever. Although rolled oats are a lot quicker in the morning, you can’t beat the creamier, chewier texture of steel-cut.

  21. Happily, I can get halloumi–and I bet I’ll find whole wheat couscous easily–this sounds so good. This book has been getting lots of good reviews from lots of bloggers…

  22. Lately I’ve been eating yogurt and granola for breakfast. I enjoy grits, steel cut oats, whatever is handy. I’ve recently started eating a lot of couscous, but never thought about it for breakfast. Maybe I should do that…

  23. Wow this looks like a great dish!! I just finished my bowl of oatmeal with blueberries. Tends to be my standard breakfast food. Seems to stay with me.
    Next Sat. is my b-day so what a treat to win a copy of this delightful book. I can see why Betsy was drawn to it.
    Thanks Nick!

  24. I’m a 12-grain toast with organic butter and jam kinda gal. Finger food, for on the go. :) Good luck everyone! And thank you for making this contest possible Nick!

  25. My very favorite breakfast grain is cream of wheat. It’s comfort food that always brings back those childhood memories of Mom, and a warm cozy kitchen during Chicago’s freezing winter mornings.

  26. I’ve been digging the quinoa/oat mixture lately. After I saw it on your site, we have started having it for breakfast on a regular basis.

  27. Grew up on oatmeal and for decades it was my go-to morning meal, but the last few years I’ve been looking for something different. Lately breakfast has been eggs and whole grain toast or homemade bread. This book looks like it will definitely have the recipes I’ve been needing.

  28. I’ve been on a quinoa breakfast bowl kick this year. Mix in some pesto and various roasted veggies or leftovers and top with an egg. Devine.

  29. This looks delicious and I will fix it next weekend. Love cous cous and the add ins sound great. Luckily, I already have all the other spices including the za’atar.

  30. I love combinations that I mix up myself, especially corn grits, buckwheat and a little rye.
    Eager to make this couscous recipe! Thank you.

  31. I like steel cut oatmeal in the colder months and granola mixed with corn flakes when it gets warmer! I’ll have to try the cous cous.

  32. My favorite breakfast grain…I am guessing a cheeseburger doesn’t qualify, so I would have to say whole wheat. I grind my own wheat berries and make pancakes. So good!

  33. I took a class from Megan last Sunday when she demoed granola and a cookie recipe. A variety of grains were used which were inspiring and delicious. The granola and cookies were warm and right from the oven. Yummmm

  34. Ok being bacon doesn’t count for your question, I’ll go with grits. Yummy with butter, some salt & pepper, and shredded cheese. And a big THANK YOU for identifying that cheese! I went with some coworkers to an Indian restaurant for lunch and had the cheese but no one could figure out what it was called!

  35. Nick, As a new za’atar addict ( I received ‘Plenty’ for
    a birthday present), I love the idea above and can’t wait to try this recipe once I find halloumi.

    Our fave for the morning is “Apple pie oatmeal” which I started making for my girls as a means of using slightly beaten organic apples deemed “yucky – looking”. A bit of cinnamon, a healthy glug of maple syrup (we lived in Vermont at the time and used a few gallons a year though not just on oatmeal!) and cooking the oats in milk creates that delicious pie smell but is wicked healthy instead.

    Though I haven’t posted before I am a seriously addicted lurker, and I love the tenor of your site and your enthusiasm for what we can all do.

  36. I really love oatmeal but lately I’ve been cooking quinoa with maple syrup and fruit for breakfast.

  37. That sounds wonderful. I first ate couscous at Gorky’s, a now defunct Russian restaurant in downtown L.A. So yummy. But my favorite breakfast grain is oatmeal. So why don’t I eat more of it??!!

  38. I have never met a grain that I didn’t like–quinoa, couscous, millet, bulgur…and speaking of bulgur: try sme at room temp or warmed with blueberries and walnuts– yum, yum!

  39. I was eating a bowl of buckwheat with berries and banana for my breakfast while I read this post! It was delicious.

  40. Couscous is my go-to grain. Never thought to use it for breakfast, but I’m going to have to try now!

  41. I’m a bit of a traditionalist at breakfast, so whatever grain is in my cereal…oats, corn, wheat…
    I wonder if my husband would eat this. He loves halloumi but really only likes rice as his dinner grain (and his breakfast grains have to be in bagel form).

  42. This sound so wonderful!! Have to try it ! I do like grits with butter as a change for breakfast!!

  43. Whole grain bread – homemade, toasted with goat cheese and fig butter – best quick breakfast ever!

  44. Am testing whether I am gluten intolerant so couscous, a favorite, is out. Have discovered that millet will fit in most couscous or quinoa recipes, however.

  45. Oh, awesome! Every recipe I see from this book makes me want it more. My “Learn to Like Oatmeal in 2014” project has succeeded, so that’s my current favorite breakfast grain. It turns out a spoonful of peanut butter has a lot to do with my enjoyment :)

  46. Looks great–I’ll have to try this for dinner. Breakfast has to be steel-cut oatmeal, made the way my dad used to do it.

  47. I still have flashbacks of my grandma forcing us to eat Malt-O-Meal and Cream of Wheat for breakfast so I’ve tended to avoid them for morning meals. I came across a savory quinoa recipe that I loved a little while ago, so there may be hope for me and daytime grains yet!

  48. I love granola mixed with plain Greek yogurt. My husband has been eating plain, old-fashioned oatmeal for breakfast for 25 years and he is the poster boy for a whole grain breakfast!

  49. Did the couscous for dinner last night, it was wonderful. I didn’t have the roast peppers so I upped the sun dried tomato a little. I also wanted to make it more dinner like so I added a little leftover roast chicken (totally unnecessary flavor wise) for the house carnivore. I also served it over a saute of slightly caramelized onions and zucchini seasoned only with salt and pepper to up the veggie content. Topped with a slice of fried halloumi (Trader J’s carries it here), greek yoghurt and fresh diced tomato. Sadly for me DH claimed the leftovers for lunch.

    Breakfast grain, oats in any form but for special a baked oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit. As a kid we used to love it when Mom cooked CoCo Wheats but I am pretty sure that is a long way from being a whole grain!

  50. I love quinoa for breakfast, but I’m flexible. Growing up (and now), we’d eat spaghetti for breakfast if that’s what was there.

  51. Barley!

    Old fashioned, I know, but super filling. I usually add some yogurt, chutney and a little scrambled egg.

  52. My favorite has to be steel cut groats (with a dollop of peanut butter and brown sugar!).

  53. I’ve always gone with the traditional oatmeal (brown sugar and possibly some fruit if I’m feeling amiable to it)… But I have to say, quinoa has been catching my eye more and more lately. I may have to switch it up and try some quinoa tomorrow morning!

  54. Made this for dinner last night. My only changes were brown rice cous cous & the addition of a 1/2 lb browned ground lamb. I rated it a 3/4, my husband rated it a 2/4. No matter what, we WILL be eating this in our house again. The cool yogurt sauce really made the dish something special. :)

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