Spiced Raisin Pearl Couscous

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by Amy on April 10, 2012 · 17 comments

Last week, I did something unprecedented. Mind blowing. Shocking. Life changing.

I walked into a Trader Joe’s for the very first time.

The shocking part, of course, is that it took me 42 years to discover this joyous place. Oh Trader Joe’s! My sweet, sweet love! I always thought you were some upscale specialty market, but clearly I was wrong. So wrong.

Items I’d never seen before, gorgeous fruits and vegetables, tidy aisles, tons of products at discounted prices. How did I not know this!?

In my defense, I have never lived even remotely close to a Trader Joe’s. Sorry, but convenience wins. However, Jenna made this couscous dish and I knew immediately I wanted needed to, too. But but but…I don’t have that Harvest Grains Blend. Waaaaa.

The 35 minute drive to TJ’s was not only worth the discovery (clearly!), but let me also just say it was worth the drive for this Harvest Blend.

On the safe side, not knowing when I would get back there, I bought four packages. I’m definitely going back, though. And I’m making this dish again and again. Or at least four more times.

Spiced Raisin Pearl Couscous
Serves 5
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

• 1 tablespoon oil
• 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon garam masala
• 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 2 tablespoon butter
• 1/2 cup golden raisins
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1 package Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (or 1 pound Israeli pearl couscous + 1 sprinkle each red quinoa, orzo, mini garbanzo beans OR I have also made this with 1/2 pound pearl couscous and 1/2 pound orzo) – about 3 cups total

Heat the oil in a large skillet with deep sides, or a pot. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and fry for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garam masala, stir fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Add the chicken broth, butter, and raisins, and bring to a boil. Add the couscous mix.

Bring back to a boil, then cover the pan and lower the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stir vigorously, then let it sit for an additional 5 minutes, covered.

Taste and add more salt if necessary and serve.

(slightly adapted from the lovely Jenna at Jenna’s Everything Blog)

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne April 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm

(a) You’re 42?? Says who? Cause you LOOK 35. Just sayin.
(b) YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO TRADER JOE’S?!?!? I hope you bought cookie butter while you were there. Otherwise I am personally shipping you some. (perhaps maybe because I have five jars that are calling to me from my cabinet. no comment.)
(c) I said this on twitter, and I’ll say it again. WANT.


Janet Foster April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am

The first time I went to Trader Joe’s I was dissappointed. I thought it was going to be a mini Whole Foods. Now that my expectations are in check, I love them. They have the best peanut butter cups on the planet.


pam April 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

I live two hours from Atlanta, and every time I go there for ANY REASON, I stop in at Trader Joes and stock up. Love it.


Doreen Hendrickson April 10, 2012 at 9:15 am

Aren’t you glad you went in to Trader Joe’s. I buy the Harvest Blend it is great for summer salads!


Jenna April 10, 2012 at 8:13 am

Yay! I’m so glad you liked this! And since my friend Beth gave the Harvest Blend package to me, I STILL have not been into a TJ’s (at least since about 2004–a crime, I’m telling you).


Melissa April 10, 2012 at 7:17 am

That looks so good. A “me only” lunch, to be sure.

Re. Trader Joe’s, I’m glad you got to go! There’s a lot I miss about it. They have such great items for great prices – basil, tomatoes, eggs, bagged spinach cheaper than ANYwhere else, applewood smoked bacon that Steve and I STILL miss the deeply smoky flavor of, wine, turkey wraps, sushi, mini spinach pizzas, teas and juices, and various nuts and dried fruits and preserves. And 12 different kinds of tasty, tasty hummus. And awesome pita chips. And awesome prices on berries in the summer, prices almost unheard of elsewhere. Miss all of that.

The one complaint I had with them is they could never provide one-stop shopping for me. Fun store, fun time, but I always had to make time to go there AND other places because no way could they give me everything I needed – sometimes much to my surprise. Like, they wouldn’t have crushed tomatoes or tomato paste. They’d be out of the craziest, most commonplace things when I needed them the most. Also, I think some of their premade or convenience stuff – like their jarred Thai curry simmer sauces – are horrible. Just warning you off. ;)


Amy April 10, 2012 at 7:52 am

I just went in search of this harvest blend and 2 hours later, Paul sent me a text “u ok?” Hee. I was just taking my time, checking everything out…up and down every aisle. Of course I didn’t have the kids with me, so it was more like a vacation ;-) Don’t know how often I’ll get back there, but definitely will. Definitely. Anyway, I can always count on you for the skinny. Noted about the jarred sauces!


Melissa April 12, 2012 at 5:55 am

Hee. And hey, that’s a vacation for me, too. Wandering around a wonderful food store for two hours. *Sigh* Hope you get to go back soon. :)


Rebecca April 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

Trader Joes. Where do I start? I have friends who come visit me every year that bring a bag full of goodies for me from TJs. Anyone who knows me who is going anywhere near one (because there isn’t one in driving distance near me) offers to pick up stuff for me. But here’s the happy thought. There is a Trader Joe’s opening up ONLY an hour and 20 minutes from me and you KNOW I’m going up there every couple months. I love them. Madly. And I want your couscous. Badly.


Amy April 10, 2012 at 7:48 am

Bec, isn’t it funny (because of what we’re used to) that an hour and 20 minutes for you seems reasonable and 35 minutes to mean is not?! I’m so spoiled :(


the wicked noodle April 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

I’m so happy for you {sniff…tearing up}. TJ’s is absolutely worth a drive. Andrea Meyers and I (do you know her? food blogger) do a monthly trip there together because it’s about the same distance for us. We make it a girls morning out and usually do breakfast or coffee or prop shopping after.

I’ll definitely pick up some of this grain blend the next time I’m there. I’ve never tried it!


Amy April 10, 2012 at 7:45 am

Oh fun! What would we do without our girlfriends and getaways??


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