This is a versatile dish: it can be either a savory side or a dessert, depending on whether or not you add the sugar, spices, and vanilla. You can even turn this into a breakfast or brunch dish with the inclusion of some, though not all, of the sugar, and the spices and vanilla used for the dessert. It’s quick, too, especially if you don’t peel the apples.

There are many variations for preparing couscous. This recipe calls for equal amounts of couscous and liquid; others for more couscous to liquid, still others for the opposite. I usually cook mine with equal amounts of grain and liquid; follow the instructions on the couscous package, do what you normally do, or research the variations. Please note that the couscous here is the small, granular type, not the larger Israeli couscous.

2 – 3 T butter or oil
5 c (peeled) diced apples
1/3 – 1/2 c (brown) sugar
1 t ground cinnamon or 1 t apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove)
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 c water or apple juice(dessert); or 2 c water or broth (savory side)
2 c couscous, whole wheat if you can find it
salt, to taste
1/2 c toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

1. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and gently sauté for about 10 minutes. If making this as desert, add the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine and gently cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the apples are soft but still hold their shape. If making this as a savory side, you will also continue to cook for the additional 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the liquid to a boil. Add the couscous and salt, stir to combine, and cover. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Or, put the couscous and salt in a serving bowl, pour the boiling liquid over the couscous, stir, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff up couscous with a fork. Cover again until the apples are done.

3. When the apples are done to your liking, combine with the couscous. Top with the toasted walnuts, if using. Serve warm.