Autumn Harvest Couscous with Apple Cider & Sweet Potatoes is a unique holiday side dish, embracing the flavors of the season.
With the holidays just around the corner, we are constantly searching for inspiration for new and unique additions to the holiday table. I like to combine traditional flavors with something unexpected, which is what lead me to create this autumn harvest couscous. While perusing the pantry one afternoon, I noticed a bag of pearl couscous with red quinoa that I had bought a while ago and forgotten about. While Jackie and I both love these grains, they tend to be a bit bland by themselves. I decided to use this grain combination as a base for an autumn side dish that would not only taste great but look good as part of our Thanksgiving meal.
Jackie loves pomegranate, and she hinted (not so subtly) that this might make a nice, colorful addition to our new dish. Our weekly outing to the farmer’s market provided the rest of the ingredients: seasonal sweet potatoes and beautiful fresh sage. We had the makings for what could be a phenomenal new side. As we strolled through the market drinking hot apple cider, it dawned on me that this classic fall staple was exactly what we needed to bring this dish together.
As if these ingredients weren’t good enough, I decided to add some cinnamon candied pecans I had just made to the top of this Autumn Harvest Couscous. It was the perfect finish. This dish is savory, with bites of subtle sweetness and a nutty crunch that truly makes it unique. It is as healthy as it is good, and it is a perfect example of how Jackie and I work well together. We are convinced it will quickly become a staple on our holiday table for years to come.
Check out more of our favorite holiday side dishes: Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts With Pomegranate, Aunt Linnie’s Corn Casserole, Polenta Stuffing
- For the nut topping:
- 2 C pecan pieces (or almonds)
- 1 egg white
- ¼ C sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- For the Base:
- 2 C cooked couscous pearls
- 1 C red quinoa (or you can use any type of grain: rice, lentils, barley)
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 3 C apple cider
- 1 C water
- ¼ C olive oil
- ½ C maple syrup
- ½ C pomegranate seeds
- 4 sage leaves
- For the nut topping:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, add nuts and 1 egg white and mix until all nuts are coated and "wet"
- Stir in sugar and cinnamon until all nuts are coated.
- Place nuts on baking sheet covered in foil and bake for 12-15 minutes.
- Remove and allow to cool completely.
- For the grain base:
- Cook couscous according to package directions, replacing ¾ of the water with apple cider.
- Drain and place in large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Slice potatoes in half and place skin side up on baking sheet. Cook in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes (until fork tender).
- Remove. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then remove skin and dice into ½ inch pieces, then add to couscous mixture.
- Add olive oil, maple syrup and pomegranate seeds and toss gently.
- Add chop fresh sage leaves and combine in mixture.
- Top with Nut mixture