Pomegranate and Pistachio Couscous

Pom seedsPomegranates are in season now.  I consider them the shooting star of the produce world.  For about 4 or 5 weeks out of the whole year you can find them in the grocery store and when you see them you have to buy them.  If you tell yourself, “I’ll pick one of those up next time.” there won’t be a next time.  Trust me, I learned the hard way.  And then you have to wait another 47 weeks before you get a chance at one again.  Luckily, pomegranates keep right on your counter top for a week or two.  So if you’re tied up with Christmas decorating and holiday parties it will wait patiently for you.


When I get an ingredient that I haven’t played around with much, I like to search through some cookbooks and trusted websites for starter recipes.  Check out my links on the left if you want to know what I mean.  But I couldn’t find anything this time around that really jumped out at me.  Mostly everything out there involves turning it into a chutney or a dessert and I wasn’t in the mood for either.  But I did come across a recipe in the NY Times’ archives that combined pomegranates and pistachios and that gave me an idea…

I’ve had a jar of Israeli Couscous sitting in my pantry for what feels like forever now.  I hadn’t been a fan of couscous originally.  I thought it was mealy and bland.  Then this summer my friend had cooked up a dish where the base grain was an Israeli-variety couscous.  Totally different story.  Instead of being mealy, Israeli couscous is a much larger, pearl-like grain.  It’s soft and absorbs flavors like a blank canvas.  It can be the perfect base to carry a flavorful dish, and that’s exactly how I used it.  When you cook couscous in a good broth, then pair it with sauteed winter veggies and a great cheese you have a super savory dish.  Add the pomegranates in and you get, quite literally, these bursts of bright, tarty-sweet flavors.  It’s quite a combo.

So this dish is a super quick one to throw together on a week night.  You can scavenge in your fridge and pantry for ingredients you already have on hand and find what works just like I did.  All in all, it took me 30 minutes, and that’s including stopping for photographs.  And in the end you get a super-flavorful homemade dish that includes one of my favorite winter veggies – kale.  Your most intensive step is likely going to be getting the seeds out of the pomegranate, and you can do that while your couscous cooks.

Speaking of, did you know that?  That it’s the seeds of the pomegranate that we eat?  A pomegranate is actually one huge berry with hundreds of water-laden seeds inside.  When you look at a pomegranate with that in mind you can see it.  It’s shaped just like a big, red blueberry!  If you’ve never deseeded a pomegranate before, check my tips and tricks below.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did!

Pomegranate and pistachio couscous

Pomegranate and Pistachio Couscous


  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium broth
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small bunch kale, washed well and torn into 1-2″ pieces
  • 3/4-1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • seeds from one pomegranate (will only need about half)
  • 1/4 cup asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup de-shelled pistachios
  • kosher salt


  1. Cook couscous according to package directions using a good broth as your liquid.  I choose to use low sodium broth so I can salt to my taste preferences vs. the manufacturers.  Therefore, when couscous is done, salt to taste.
  2. While couscous is cooking, remove seeds from pomegranate and reserve.  See footnotes.
  3. In your biggest skillet heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Add in torn kale and cabbage.  It should crackle and pop like bacon when added to the pan.  Add a pinch of salt and toss in the oil until the kale gets bright green and starts to go down in size but still retains its structure and texture (read:  not mushy).  In last 30 seconds or so toss in garlic then remove from heat.
  4. In bowl or on serving dish, lay down bed of kale and cabbage and top with couscous.  Top ad lib with pomegranate seeds, asiago cheese and pistachios.

Serves 2 as a main dish, likely with leftovers to spare.

How to deseed a pomegranate

    1. Change out of any white cloths…just in case.
    2. Fill large mixing bowl with cool water.
    3. Cut pomegranate into quarters trying to keep the inside of the pomegranate facing your cutting board (to minimize juice squirting up at you).
    4. Hold quarter of pomegranate under water and with your hands flip rind of pomegranate inside out, similar to how some people like to eat orange segments.  Seeds should start to pop off rind by themselves.
    5. Still in the bowl of water, use your fingers to pop off any remaining seeds.  The seeds will sink to the bottom while the white, spongy membrane will all float to the top.
    6. Skim all the white stuff out of the water and then pour out your seeds into a colander.
    7. Voilá!  You’ve just separated the seeds from the rind!


Filed under Great Grains, Lunch/Dinner, Main Dish

4 responses to “Pomegranate and Pistachio Couscous

  1. Yum! I was hoping you would post about this. It sounded so good 🙂

  2. Amie

    If you just cut the top offof the pomegranate and score the sides and leave the whole thing in cold water for 5-10 minutes THEN break the whole thing open it is less mess and deseeds a little easier.

  3. Pingback: Pomegranate Guacamole « fête

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