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Butternut Squash, Browned Butter and Sage Couscous

In Middle Eastern, Pasta, Recipe, Side Dish
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For those of you pulling your hair out over the complexity and time required to pull together the recipes of some of our recent posts, like Bouchon's Quiche Lorraine or my Chicken Pot Pie, here is a delicious and simple side dish that you can put on the table tonight in about 20 minutes.

I have always been enchanted by the promise of couscous, a fine grained pasta that only takes about 5 minutes to cook, but to be honest, I've often found the recipes I've tried to be bland, dry and altogether forgettable.  Couscous really well done can be a delight, when it is not, it can be like eating a bowl of sand.  I don't know about you, but my kids stopped eating sand a couple of years ago, and I've no interest in getting them hooked all over again, it was a hard habit for them to break.

My wife inspired the creation of this recipe by asking that I deconstruct a squash and sage ravioli dish that she had recently enjoyed.  The resulting course is a deliciously simple, yet richly flavored dish that would be equally at home served with a braised lamb shank, or a simply prepared fish filet.  I made the dish with a small grained couscous, but I’m sure it would work as well with the larger, “Israeli” variety.

I hope you enjoy it. 


Butternut Squash, Browned Butter and Sage Couscous

by: Steve Dunn

(Print Friendly Recipe)


  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 15 medium sized, fresh sage leaves, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup couscous, cooked to the producers instructions, and kept covered and warm.
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts, lightly toasted in a skillet.
  • 2 cups 1/2” x 1/2” cubes of butternut squash.
  • Fresh parmesan cheese for grating.


  • Peel, seed, and cube the squash, steam for 8-10 minutes, until just cooked through, remove from heat and reserve.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until the milk solids turn a lovely golden brown (see the brown flecks on the couscous in the photo above?  That's what your looking for, and it is key to the success of this dish).  When that happens, and with the butter still on the heat, add the chicken stock, sliced sage, and the freshly grated nutmeg (I used about an 1/8 teaspoon, use more or less as you wish).  Cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup, remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.
  • To serve, fluff the cooked couscous with a fork, and toss it into the pan with the sauce.  Add the cubed squash and chopped walnuts, stir to incorporate and reheat gently if required.  Make a final check for seasoning and serve with a light dusting of freshly gated parmesan.


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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