Harissa Couscous with Fennel

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This harissa couscous with fennel is the pearl couscous with harissa recipe you’ve been waiting for. It’s easy to make and absolutely loaded with flavor.

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One of my favorite things in the world is a recipe that is no fuss but has huge flavor. This pearl couscous with harissa is one such recipe.

You only need a few ingredients–all of which are easily interchangeable depending on the season and what’s in your pantry. You need fennel, onion, butter, harissa, pearl couscous, and a bit of water, salt, and pepper. That’s it. How you garnish this harissa couscous is up to your imagination, and I left some ideas below, so keep reading!

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How to make this recipe:

First, cook the onion and fennel. You want the fennel to really deepen in color, so let it sizzle for a good 7–9 minutes over a medium to medium-high flame, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent it from burning. Once the fennel is beautifully browned, melt a few tablespoons of butter. Add the harissa paste and let it sizzle in the butter and toss the aromatics in it until well-coated. You can use your favorite harissa paste, but my favorite brand is New York Shuk. You can pick up a jar of New York Shuk’s Signature Harissa from my shop!

Once the vegetables are all coated, add the couscous and cook it for 1–2 minutes. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil. From there, simply reduce heat, let it simmer for about 20–25 minutes and that’s it.

How should you garnish this pearl couscous with harissa? As I said, it’s up to your imagination and what you have on hand. I made a beautiful citrus labneh sauce in addition to pomegranate seeds and fennel fronds. Here are a few more suggestions:


  • Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice
  • Tahini and greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice
  • Lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
  • Golden raisins soaked in a bit of oil and lemon juice


  • Crushed pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Slivered almonds
  • Mint leaves, parsley, or cilantro
  • Minced scallions
  • Toasted pine nuts

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Harissa Couscous with Fennel_MidPage

Harissa Couscous with Fennel

This harissa couscous with fennel is the pearl couscous with harissa recipe you've been waiting for. It's easy to make and absolutely loaded with flavor.
4.34 from 15 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 312kcal



  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large fennel bulb trimmed, cored, and sliced into thin wedges
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 heaping tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 3 cups water or stock plus more as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For serving:

  • ½ cup labneh or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • A few splashes of water more as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • Fennel fronds reserved from the fennel bulb
  • Pomegranate seeds


Cook the aromatics:

  • Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and fennel and cook, occasionally stirring, for 7–10 minutes until they begin to deepen in color. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent burning. Continue cooking until the fennel is a deep, golden brown—season with salt and pepper.

Cook the harissa paste:

  • Melt the butter into the fennel and onions. Once melted and bubbly, add the harissa paste and let it sizzle in the butter for 30 seconds. Toss to coat the aromatics in the paste for 45 seconds more.

Cook the couscous:

  • Add the pearl couscous and toss to coat. Cook for 1–2 minutes.

Simmer the couscous:

  • Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes until the couscous is tender. Add more water, if necessary, if the liquid evaporates too quickly or if the couscous sticks. You may need to add up to ¼ cup or ½ cup of additional water—taste and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the labneh sauce:

  • While the couscous simmers, combine the labneh, lemon juice, and a big pinch of salt and stir. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition until the sauce is a drizzling consistency—taste and season with more salt.

To serve:

  • Divide the couscous between plates and spoon the labneh sauce on top. Garnish with fennel fronds and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!


Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 120mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 11mg
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  1. Can you suggest an alternative to the butter? This recipe looks delicious but as I’m on a low cholesterol diet the butter is unfortunately a no-no …

    1. You can skip it! When you’re ready to add the harissa, take a peek at the skillet. If it seems a bit dry, I would add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It will just help enhance the flavor of everything 🙂

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