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Chef Megan Mitchell

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Saffron Couscous with Almond Pesto

  • Serves: 4
  • Complexity: medium
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Saffron Couscous with Almond Pesto


  • 3 cups lightly packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, done on a microplane zester
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 ounces Israeli couscous
  • 2 tbsp. ghee
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, done on a microplane zester
  • Basil leaves, for garnish
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Start by making the pesto. Prepare an ice bath. In a small bowl combine 1 cup of ice with 2 cups of cold water. Set aside.

  2. Bring a medium sauce pot of water up to a boil. Add in the basil leaves and blanch for 45-60 seconds. Remove and immediately place in the ice bath. Let cool for a minute or two and then drain making sure to squeeze out all of the water.

  3. Place the drained basil in a high power blender. Add in the EVOO, almonds, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning. Cover and set aside until needed. Will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

  4. In a small sauce pot combine the water, saffron and salt. Bring up to heat over medium low. Do not boil.

  5. In a medium sauce pot combine the couscous and ghee. Bring up to heat over medium and cook until the couscous is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Next add in the warmed saffron water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender, plumped up and all of the water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.

  6. To serve pour the warm couscous into a shallow bowl or platter. Drizzle with the pesto, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and then top with basil leaves and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve warm or room temperature.

    Recipe Courtesy of Megan Mitchell

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