Cranberry & spiced sweet potato couscous + feta

Last week the lovely Senja and Hayley came over for a girls’ night. It had recently been Canadian Thanksgiving, so I was feeling festive and desperate to bring a bit of Toronto to Utrecht.

spiced sweet potato couscous

We have these wonderful family friends – I’ll call them the Bs. We’ve been friends for something like 24 (!) years, since Catherine and I met at daycare. Although we ended up spending only about 6 months in school together, we’ve stayed close over the years and seen each other in all phases of life. We’ve gone to camp together, taken salsa lessons together, somehow ruined 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies together, and even worked our first jobs together.

Anyway! A few years back the Bs generously started hosting us for Christmas Eve. Very little can beat those nights in terms of festivity. The evening is always filled with (far too much) incredible food, games, Christmas crackers, music (from the piano, our own voices, or once even a piano/guitar hybrid!) and – of course – port. Hilarity usually ensues :p

One of the dishes that has starred a few times is this wonderfully festive quinoa salad with sweet potato, cranberries and feta that Louise makes. And so, to maximize Toronto-y-ness and festivity, I decided to whip up my own version for the girls: spiced sweet potato couscous with feta, cranberries, and arugula.

I started by tossing some sweet potato cubes in some olive oil and cayenne and then chucking that all in the oven.

spiced sweet potato couscous

I tossed a handful of craisins into some dry couscous and then cooked that up – easy peasy. Much quicker than quinoa, which was one of the reasons I chose it, but ALSO for some reason my grocery store tends to only sell those mixed of quinoa with the three different colours. And I just cannot get on board with those. They all have different cooking times! I don’t get it.

spiced sweet potato couscous

Next it was time for some crumbled feta, a couple handfuls of arugula, a little vinaigrette, et voilà! Super quick and simple, fairly healthy, and perfect to make ahead of time…

So that when the girls got here I could focus on a far less wholesome dish: phyllo-wrapped brie. The less you know about that, the better 😛

spiced sweet potato couscous

spiced sweet potato couscous

But anyway, I ended up enjoying these leftovers so much that I made another batch – a true sign of a win around here! So I thought it merited its place on this little blog.

This spiced sweet potato couscous can be eaten at room temperature or reheated, making it a very flexible little number. And in spite of the sweet potato and the cranberries, it’s satisfyingly salty and hearty – and that’s coming from someone who only sometimes likes sweet potato and has much more of a salty tooth than a sweet one.

Cranberry & spiced sweet potato couscous + feta

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 mains, 6 sides

Cranberry & spiced sweet potato couscous + feta

A simple recipe for a festive and hearty spiced sweet potato couscous with cranberries, arugula, and feta - perfect to make ahead of time for a party or work lunches!

Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes (peel is delicious if left on!)
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp paprika powder
olive oil, to coat
1 cup dry couscous (or 4 portions)
1 cup boiling veggie broth
about 1/3 cup (big handful) of dried cranberries
2-3 big handfuls of arugula
1 cup (about 150 g) crumbled feta
salt & pepper to taste
For the dressing
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
generous pinch of salt & pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 225c/435f.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the sweet potato with enough olive oil to coat, followed by the spices and a generous pinch of salt. Lay flat on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until cooked through and starting to turn golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
3. Roughly rinse the bowl, then pop the couscous and cranberries in. Cover with the veggie broth, then cover everything with a lid or a plate (what I usual do!) and let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Whip up the dressing by combining all ingredients.
5. Once the couscous is cooked, fluff it up with a fork. Add to a serving bowl, along with the feta, the arugula and the dressing.
6. Once the sweet potato is ready, add that as well. Toss everything together, adjust seasoning if necessary, and you're ready to eat!
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