“A good tip for preparing perfect couscous is to rub the dry grains with oil to separate and lightly coat them before cooking. This prevents the grains clumping together after you add the stock. To pack as much flavour as possible into the couscous, I add all the offcuts of the vegetables I’m using in the dish, so there’s no waste at all. While it is traditional to stir smen (fermented butter) through the couscous at the end, it’s not really to everyone’s taste so I’ve added a fragrant thyme butter instead.” Shane Delia, Shane Delia’s Moorish Spice Journey






Skill level

Average: 4.4 (7 votes)


  • 3 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 small white zucchini, trimmed and halved lengthways
  • ½ small Kent pumpkin, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, halved
  • 1 baby cabbage, quartered
  • 8 baby vine tomatoes
  • 2 swedes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 8 baby chat potatoes, peeled
  • 4 salad onions, halved
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 25 g piece of ginger, sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, plus 1 tsp leaves extra
  • handful of thyme leaves
  • 125 g salted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 small bunch baby radishes, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp harissa



  • 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock
  • good pinch of saffron threads
  • 250 g (1⅓ cups) instant couscous
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest grated
  • 155 g (1 cup) chopped toasted almonds
  • handful of parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place all the vegetables in a large roasting tray and toss with the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and rosemary sprigs and roast, tossing regularly for 1½ hours until tender and caramelised.

Meanwhile, combine the thyme and butter together, then season with salt and pepper. Place on a piece of baking paper, shape into a log, then roll up and refrigerate until needed.

To prepare the couscous, place the stock and saffron in a saucepan and place over medium heat until just below the boil.

Place the couscous in a large, wide dish. Add the salt, then drizzle over the oil and rub through the grains with your fingers until well coated. Pour over 500 ml (2 cups) boiling stock or enough to cover the couscous by 2 cm. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Set aside the remaining stock. Using a fork, fluff up the couscous, then add the lemon zest, almonds, parsley and a large knob of thyme butter. Transfer the couscous to a large baking dish and cover tightly with foil.

When the vegetables are cooked, remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 100°C. Place the couscous in the oven for 10 minutes to steam gently. Use a fork to gently fluff up the grains again.

Meanwhile, melt another large knob of thyme butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the preserved lemon and extra rosemary leaves and toss to combine, then add the roasted vegetables, baby radishes and harissa to taste, then toss until well combined and heated through.  

Heat the remaining stock with harissa to taste, then pour into a serving jug. Arrange the hot couscous around the outside of a large platter and place the vegetables in the centre. Drizzle over some of the sauce and serve the remaining sauce separately.


Shane Delia's Moorish Spice Journey starts Thursday 15 October 2015 at 8pm on SBS and finishes 17 December 2015. Visit the Shane Delia's Moorish Spice Journey program page to catch-up on episodes online, scroll through recipes and read our interview with Shane.