This is a Variation on a Root Formula, a simplified recipe that shows which ingredients
are core and which can be changed to create different flavor combinations or use what you
have on hand. See our other variations at the bottom of the Root Formula page.
We’re always looking for fun ways to jazz up beans and grains, and this Chickpea and Pearl Couscous Gratin is a wonderful example of just how tasty eating meatless can be. This dish evolved in a funny sort of way, and here’s our story.
I first developed Mediterranean White Bean and Orzo Gratin and realized this baked bean and grain dish was not limited to white beans and orzo. I could pair any bean with any grain that would soften up and absorb a quart of broth by the time the crumbs were golden brown.
Why not chickpeas and pearl couscous as we feature here?
Chickpea and Couscous Gratin
So how does Chickpea and Pearl Couscous Gratin come together? If you need to make the dish fast, start with canned chickpeas. If have time (and want to save money), start by soaking a pound of chickpeas overnight and then cooking them.
In this dish we use the bean cooking liquid as part of the one quart of broth you need to make this gratin. If you soak and cook the beans the Planetarian Life way, you’ll need very little broth to make up the difference.
Like many Planetarian Life recipes, Chickpea and Pearl Couscous Gratin starts off with sautéing onions and garlic, to which you add cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and hot red pepper flakes. Once the aromatics have softened, add most of the remaining ingredients—the chickpeas, broth, tomatoes, and pearl couscous. While this mixture comes to the simmer, prepare the almonds. When the mixture starts to simmer and the pearl couscous has partially absorbed the liquid, stir in the cilantro or cilantro and mint combo, pour the mixture into a 13- by 9-inch baking dish, sprinkle with diced apricots, which we highly recommend, and then the almonds.
The thirty-minute baking time and the generous yield makes this crowd-pleasing dish perfect for gatherings with family and friends. And if your crowd isn’t so big, the recipe halves easily halves.
Other Bean & Grain Gratin Variations
Chickpea and Pearl Couscous Gratin
- 1 recipe Pot of Beans or 4 cans (15 to 16 ounces) chickpeas
- 2 cups or more broth, your choice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into small dice
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, coriander, ginger, and turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
- 2 cups pearl couscous
- 1 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or 1/4 cup each: cilantro and mint
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. If using a Pot of Beans, soak and cook them, reserving chickpea cooking liquid in a 1 quart measuring cup. If using canned chickpeas, drain them, reserving bean liquid in a 1 quart liquid measuring cup. Add enough broth to equal 1 quart.
- Heat oil in a large pot; add onions and sauté until nearly tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and pepper flakes; continue to cook another minute or so. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, and couscous; bring to a simmer.
- While mixture heats, chop almonds.
- When mixture starts to simmer, stir in cilantro. (*If using apricots, add them now.) Taste and adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste. Turn mixture into a 13- by 19-inch pan; sprinkle with almonds and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, and then serve.