Couscous with roasted butternut squash and dried cranberries

I don't know about you but I have always been a side-dish kind of person. What do I mean by that; well, for one, I usually relish the side-dish just as much as I like the main-dish! Infact, I have been known to be making meals out of side-dishes.. one pot quinoa salad for a quick lunch, smashed yams with a drizzle of honey for desert, soup as the main-course for dinner.. well, you get the idea. Needless to say, whenever I am invited to a Thanksgiving dinner, I am perfectly happy bringing a side-dish. Nothing screams fall to me like this dish with roasted, camelized butternut squash and dried cranberries with couscous!

The dish is wide open to variations and experimentations. I tried it with orange flavored dried cranberries from Trader Joe's and loved the orangy after-taste it gave. Occasionally I also add pumpkin seeds or pistachios for a crunch at times. As for the herbs, I suspect fried torn sage leaves would pair really well with the squash but I haven't tried it myself. I usually add the chives or the oregano from garden and its wonderful! If you are unsure what to bring to Thanksgiving and have been slated with a side-dish, give this a try, I guarantee you won't regret having to bring a side ;)

Recipe: Couscous with roasted butternut squash and cranberries
Serves 4
1.5C whole wheat couscous
1.5C boiling water
1/2 of medium size butternut squash
1 medium sized onion
2 cloves of garlic - smashed
handful of dried cranberries
fresh herb of choice - sage, oregano or chives
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
crushed chili flakes
salt & pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Cut the butternut squash in halves. Add olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 30-35mins until the squash is soft (poke with a knife, there should not be much resistance). Remove from oven let cool. When cool, peel the skin off and chop the half of butternut squash into byte sized chunks. Reserve the other half for later use.

Heat 1Tbsp olive oil in a large bottomed pan. When hot, add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until onions are tender.

Add butternut squash pieces, dried couscous, lemon zest and mix well. Add boiling water to the couscous mixture and turn off the heat. Add salt & pepper. Mix well, cover and let stand for 5mins. Uncover, add the cranberries, drizzle with more olive oil (optional), lemon juice, black pepper and crushed chili flakes. Serve warm!