An easy weeknight meal: 20-minute Greek couscous packed with veggies and protein. This vegetarian meal is hearty, filling, and packed with flavor.
With seven kids growing up, pleasing everyone for dinner proved quite the challenge for my mom. Inevitably there would always be someone that wouldn’t like something that she put in one of her dishes.
There were so many of us with so many varied preferences that it was extremely hard for her to keep track. That, and, she didn’t believe in making too many special adaptations for meals – what she made is what we ate. Obviously her mindset wasn’t something I always appreciated, but now, I definitely do. I’ll eat pretty much everything and enjoy trying new things.
We quickly learned as kids that the only way to keep mom from putting certain foods into dishes was by “banding together” in our hatred of certain foods. If, say, 3 or 4 of us didn’t like olives, there was a pretty good chance she would just stop putting them in dishes altogether.
If at least four of us really, reallly complained about a meal, she rarely (if ever) made it again.
So, naturally, sibling alliances were made. They were (for the most part) unspoken, but went kind of like this, “Hey, if you don’t like this food, I will say I don’t like this food.” “Deal!”
One of those such alliances was made over olives. I hated olives growing up! I still don’t love them, but I won’t push them all to the side of my plate. My sister closest in age agreed that she didn’t like them and they appeared in less dishes. Until one day when I walked into the kitchen to see the same sister eating olives by the handful.
With a super guilty look she admitted to me that she in fact loves olives. I was out of luck! The olives returned in the dinner items and I learned to avoid them when dishing up or to eat a few. I found out they weren’t as poisonous as I had originally thought. 🙂
Now flash forward several years and I’m actually putting olives in a dish and it’s dang good!! I’ll admit, I like very few olives in my helpings, but they really tie together the flavors in this simple dish. I know that kalamata olives are more traditional in a Greek dish, so feel free to substitute those instead.
To make this dish NOT vegetarian: you can add in some shredded chicken or another kind of meat into this dish that you enjoy. I personally like adding a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken that I’ve quickly shredded up to most meals that are meatless (tons of flavor and easy prep!). It’s not necessary to add any meat because there is a lot of protein from the beans and the couscous. Turns out, it is quite a filling meal. However, if meat is a must for you, it’s also not too hard to add some to this dish!
Some other ideas you could try is using kale in place of the spinach. You can play around with the flavors of diced tomatoes you add into the dish (there are so many different kinds of diced tomatoes). You can even change out or increase the amount of beans.
There is definitely an emphasis on garlic flavoring in this dish which I love and did not find overpowering at all. Both the couscous package and the diced tomatoes are “roasted garlic” flavored. If you don’t use these same versions, you may want to increase the garlic quite a bit. If you aren’t able to find the same couscous package, you can use another kind of couscous – just make sure it equals about 3 cups prepared couscous. And then add a bit more seasoning (perhaps some extra olive oil, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, etc.) to make a super flavorful couscous. (The package I refer to using has a spice package in it.)
The amount of seasoning called for in the recipe can also be increased (or decreased) to personal preference. If you are wary of too much spice, add it slowly. If you are a spice lover, you may want even more!
And of course, the feta cheese completes the dish! Enjoy 🙂
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup (~1/2 large) yellow onion chopped
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces EACH) diced tomatoes I used roasted garlic flavored
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) Cannellini beans
- 1 can (6.5 ounces) medium black olives
- 1 box (5.8 ounces) Couscous Mix*
- 5 ounces spinach half of a 10-ounce bag
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Optional: Feta cheese, fresh rosemary
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.
- Place in the garlic and stir for about 20 seconds or until fragrant and add the chopped onion. Stir until the onion is tender and translucent in color.
- Add in both cans of the undrained diced tomatoes. Drain and rinse the beans and add them into the mixture.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to the package directions. Fluff and then set aside.
- Once the tomato mixture has simmered for about 10 minutes, add in the prepared couscous.
- In a small bowl, stir together all of the seasonings (rosemary, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt). Add the seasonings to the couscous tomato mixture. (Add slowly and taste if you are worried about too much seasoning)
- Remove from heat and stir in the spinach (remove any large spinach stems previously), and the olives. (I sliced the olives in half - you can leave them whole or halve/chop them).
- Top with feta cheese and fresh rosemary if desired. Serve immediately.
*I used a roasted garlic and olive oil flavored mix couscous that had a seasoning package. If you don't use this couscous, you may want to increase the garlic and other seasonings. This mix makes 3 cups couscous.
More easy vegetarian dinners: