Candied Tangerine Couscous with Prunes and Butternut Squash

Michael Mir

Bha! Bha! A Persian Bistro - Naples, FL

This recipes was adapted from one by Michael Mir of Bha! Bha! A Persian Bistro in Naples, Florida.


  • 1 small, meaty butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut in half-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tangerines
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small white onion (4 ounces), halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, each cut into 3 to 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup Zante currants
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of saffron, dissolved in 6 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous


Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Spread the butternut squash pieces on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, transfer to a large mixing bowl, and set aside to cool.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of the tangerines in long strips; try to get as little white pith on the zest as possible. Finely julienne the zest into thin strips. Place the julienned zest in a small pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil again. Repeat once more. Place the drained zest back in the pot. Add 1/2 cup cold water and the sugar. Bring to the boil again, turn down the heat, and simmer about 8 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the zest is translucent and candied. Cool and add to the mixing bowl with the squash.

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion slices. When they are translucent, add the prunes and currants. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon, and stir for a few seconds to toast. Pour in the saffron water and mix well, scraping the spices off the bottom of the pan. Add this mixture to the squash mixture.

To cook the couscous, in a medium saucepan combine the chicken stock with 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons salt, and a pinch of black pepper, and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and bring it back to a boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer, cover, and let cook about 8 minutes, until the couscous has swollen and the liquid is gone. Add the couscous to the rest of the ingredients and mix well.


8 servings