While the current craze is to get super Christmas crazy immediately after Halloween is over (like literally the next day), what I like to do is head to the store, stock up on all kinds of fall ingredients and create some cool new recipes, and I can’t help but be obsessed with butternut squash during this amazing season. My butternut squash and cranberry couscous is a yummy merriment of fall flavors that makes a quick and delicious side dish to basically any entrée!
Roasting the butternut squash gives a flavor profile that is unmatched if you were to cook it any other way. If you read my blog, you know that I am obsessed with roasting vegetables. It’s a healthy way to bring out SO much flavor. Plus its super easy clean up by just scraping the deliciousness off the tray and throwing away the aluminum foil you roasted it on. Boom, done! That caramelization the butternut squash gets from being roasted gives this dish a sweet component that pairs perfectly well with the rest of the ingredients in this recipe.
Cranberries and walnuts are just more ingredients that absolutely scream FALL! The dried cranberries provide a tartness as well as a nice chew. If you add them into the couscous while it’s still steaming, you get a nice, plump, juicy cranberry in seconds! I highly recommend keeping these little morsels stocked in your pantry, as they go well with all kinds of salads! Chopped walnuts provide that nice crunchy texture that goes so well with the creamy butternut squash and the tart chewy cranberries.
When it comes to the couscous, a plain boxed variety is all you need. Just be sure to cook it in chicken stock, it adds so much more flavor than water! This rule applies to quinoa also, but that’s for another recipe! Just do it ok, opening a box of chicken stock is just as easy as filling up a measuring cup with water, and will do wonders for flavor, so don’t be lazy!
The vinaigrette is optional, as this dish could totally be eaten as is at this point, but it’s also highly recommended! Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup help to just amp up all those fall flavors. The hot couscous will totally soak up the vinaigrette and transform it into the perfect fall side dish.
So hopefully you have developed a fall fetish after reading about this recipe and decide to give it a try at least once during this beautiful season! It seriously goes great with so many dishes, particularly roasted chicken, fish and pork chops!
P.S. My kitchen playlist song of choice for this recipe is Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake!
- 2 Cups Butternut Squash, cubed
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil (2 for squash, 1 for couscous)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Box Plain Couscous
- ⅓ Cup Dried Cranberries
- ¼ Cup Chopped Walnuts, plus a little extra for garnish
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (1 for squash, ½ for couscous)
- ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon Maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cube squash and coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and cinnamon, bake for 25 minutes. In a pan, bring chicken broth, olive oil and salt to a boil. Add couscous and follow directions on the box. After putting on the lid to let the couscous steam, add in the cranberries to allow to plump up. Fluff couscous and cranberries wit a fork, and add in the roasted butternut squash along with all the pan drippings and walnuts. Combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper and whisk together to make the vinaigrette, and pour over the warm couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!