If you’re a fan of curry, this copycat recipe for Mendocino Farms Curried Couscous is about to knock your socks off. The couscous is mixed with a roasted cauliflower and carrot mixture that is coated in savory warm spices, all balanced perfectly to make the ideal side dish for any occasion.
If you’re not familiar, Mendocino Farms is a California based fast casual restaurant known for their farm-to-table style sandwiches and salads. Their ingredients are always fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced – which if you know me, is a philosophy I try to live by!
Jeremiah and I both love this side dish and can’t resist sharing it anytime we go to Mendocino Farms. He was thrilled when I recreated it, especially now that we are moving to Arizona and Mendocino Farms hasn’t made its way there yet!
Update: Mendocino Farms finally published the recipe on their website in 2020 (when we all needed it the most!), but their spice + sugar ratios are a bit off (in my opinion). I think you are going to love the balance this copycat recipe has!
What to Serve with Curried Couscous
This is a cold side salad, making it ideal to serve at a barbecue or brunch. I love to pair it with my favorite burger, or even sloppy joes. It is a perfect side dish pairing with grilled vegetables too!
It is amazing how just a few simple ingredients can make couscous more interesting! The addition of the warm savory spices balanced with a touch of sweetness, and the creaminess from the mayonnaise makes this a truly unique and flavorful side.
- Israeli couscous or pearl couscous (see FAQ below)
- Cauliflower florets
- Curry powder
- Turmeric powder
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- Brown sugar
- Cayenne pepper
- Lime juice
- Avocado or olive oil
You’ll find the quantities in the recipe card below.
How to Make Curried Couscous
Preheat your oven to 450F degrees.
Prepare the couscous according to package directions. Then, using a colander with small holes, rinse the couscous under cold water, and drain well. Add cooked couscous back to the pot and set aside to cool completely.
In a small bowl, combine the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
Using a large knife, chop the cauliflower florets and carrots into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with oil and the seasoning mixture. Toss well to evenly coat.
Spread the veggie mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet. Do not rinse or clean the empty bowl – you’re going to want all that extra flavor stuck to the sides of the bowl later!
Bake the vegetables for 8-10 minutes. You want the edges of the cauliflower and carrots to be golden, but not burned, and they should be tender, but still crunchy. Remove the vegetable mixture from the oven and let cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cilantro, and lime juice.
Using the same large bowl from above, add the cooled couscous, cooled roasted veggies, and the mayonnaise mixture. Stir to combine, and taste. Adjust the seasonings as needed.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Part of being the cook is that you get to adapt and make a recipe according to your dietary and taste preferences. Below are some common substitutions I get asked about while making curried couscous. If you have any others, feel free to share in the comments!
VEGAN: Substitute your favorite vegan-naise to make this recipe vegan.
GLUTEN FREE: I have not found a gluten free Israeli couscous, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! I have, however, seen gluten free Orzo, which is basically Israeli couscous’s flat cousin. Feel free to substitute that if you are seeking to make this gluten free.
ADDED SUGAR: I try to limit my added sugar, especially refined cane sugar. I love to substitute coconut sugar (1:1 substitution ratio) when making curried couscous. It is still sugar, but it has more nutritional value and won’t contribute to as strong of a blood glucose spike. You can also use maple syrup (I would start with 2 teaspoons and gradually add if you need more), but the taste will be altered slightly.
A good sharp knife is one of the best kitchen tools you can invest in. Not only does a high-quality knife help reduce the risk of injury when chopping (counterintuitive, I know, but a dull knife requires more pressure and tends to slip easier), it significantly cuts down on prep time.
A sturdy heavy-bottom pan is also helpful for this recipe. I love my set of Scanpan cookware and cannot recommend them enough! They are healthy non-stick, made in Denmark, and are free of PFOAs, PFOS, lead, and cadmium.
My Top Tips For Success
- Always wear an apron when working with turmeric or curry powder! Turmeric and curry stain very easily, and it is tough to get out. Protect any light-colored surfaces or kitchen tools by washing them right away.
- Curried couscous is best served cold. For optimum flavor, I like it to make it 6+ hours ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Taste the recipe as you go so you can adjust the flavors to your liking. If you want to make the curried couscous spicy, add a bit more cayenne pepper. I personally don’t like it too sweet, so I tend to use less sweetener.
Frequently Asked Questions
Leftover curried couscous can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.
Yes! In fact, I highly recommend it. Making this recipe ahead of time will allow the flavors to blend together and develop.
They are actually the same thing, it’s just that some brands prefer to label it as pearl couscous while others will call it Israeli. Just make sure whichever couscous you buy is plain and only has one ingredient – semolina flour.
You certainly can! Just make sure you thaw the cauliflower florets and allow them to drain well to bring out the excess moisture before proceeding with the recipe.