It doesn’t take much to turn summer vegetables into a light supper. Here a sauté of summer squash and corn joins up with pearl cous cous (and plenty of flavor from garlic, citrus and herbs) to make a delicious vegetarian supper or wonderful side for meat or fish.

Susie Middleton

A variation of this recipe originally appeared in my cookbook, Simple Green Suppers (Roost, 2017). 

Serves 3 to 4

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup small-diced onion (I used purple spring onions, but yellow onions are fine)
  • 1 cup pearl cous cous
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups small-diced summer squash or zucchini, or a combination (about 10 ounces) 
  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice, more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro, basil, thai basil, parsley or any combination

1. In a large saucepan (which has a lid), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup of the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and are beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

2. Add the cous cous and ½ teaspoon salt. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until much of the cous cous has taken on some browning, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the ground coriander and stir.

3. Add 1 ¼ cups water to the pan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed and the cous cous is tender, 9 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Fluff the cous cous with a fork, cover, and keep warm in the pan.

4. In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat the remaining butter and the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the remaining ¾ cup onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. 

5. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the squash and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the squash is somewhat shrunken and browned on some sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the corn kernels and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the corn is glistening, bright, and slightly shrunken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and the remaining teaspoon of coriander and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until fragrant and well mixed, about one minute.

6. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for a couple minutes. Sprinkle two teaspoons of the lemon or lime juice over the sauté and stir and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cooked couscous to the pan, stir, and season with fresh pepper. Stir in most of the herbs and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, or citrus juice to taste.

7. Serve garnished with the remaining herbs.