This Curried Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower is a copycat recipe of Mendocino Farms (a chain restaurant in California). Cauliflower was roasted with a blend of spices, like curry powder, turmeric, cumin & coriander, then toss with Israeli couscous, mayo and lime juice. It is little sweet with a mild curry flavor. It would be a nice addition for any picnic or dinner party!
If you live in California and you love sandwiches, you probably have been to Mendocino Farms. Other than the classic turkey and Italian sandwiches, they have something more new and exciting, like Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi and Peruvian Steak Sandwich. We actually like those two a lot! Salads are also popular here. My go-to is the Save Drake Farm’s Salad, which has chicken, goat cheese, beets, apples, dried cranberries, roasted almond and lettuce with a citrus dressing. It was light, sweet and savory at the same time.
Wait… We are not done yet! The most exciting part is the side bar, where they have a few options, like salad and pasta salad. They give you free samples! And, this is where the famous curried couscous is. Every time I go there, I get a sample of the couscous. Even though I already knew how it tastes, I just want some. They are absolutely fantastic, except for the price. For a small (8 oz), it’s $4.50. For a large (16 oz), it’s $7.50. When you’re spent $10 – 12 on a sandwich, getting a $5 side seems way too much! Most of the time, we just got a sample and skipped the sides even though I love them very much.
This copycat recipe is super close to the original. It looks like it and it tastes like it. We had a friend to try this and he recognized this instantly. The secret is all in the blend of spices. There are curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and brown sugar. Couscous was lightly toasted and cooked in water until tender. Cauliflower florets and carrot cubes were combined with spice mix and roasted until slightly softened. When tossing the vegetables and couscous together, the flavors and colors of the curry and turmeric transferred to the couscous as well. Add mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro. Combine well and your side is almost ready. Transfer to fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
The couscous has a stunning yellow color. It’s cold, little sweet with a mild curry flavor. The slightly caramelized cauliflower gave a nice savory and nutty flavors, which brought a great contrast to the couscous. The lime juice helped to balance the richness from the mayonnaise. It is an excellent side dish for any meal. It would be excellent to take to a picnic or party too!
Mendocino Farms Curried Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for vegetables
- ½ pound Israeli (pearl) couscous or orzo pasta (about 1 2/3 cups)
- 3 1/3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon curry powder
- ½ tablespoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ head cauliflower
- 1 small carrot (peeled & cut into 1/8-inch cubes)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1½ tablespoons cilantro (minced)
- Juice of ¼ lime
- In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add couscous and cook them until lightly toasted, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add 3 1/3 cups water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 – 6 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, curry powder, turmeric, salt, coriander, cumin, & cayenne pepper. Blend well.
- In another small bowl, toss the carrots with 1 teaspoon olive oil and ¼ of the spices.
- For the cauliflower, cut or break the florets into small pieces, about ½-inch. In a large bowl, toss the florets with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and rest of the spices.
- Transfer the carrots to one side on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer the cauliflower florets to the other side of the baking sheet. Roast in the oven. After 8 minutes, check if the carrots are tender. If they are, transfer them into the bowl of couscous. Return the cauliflower to the oven and roast for another 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer them into the bowl of couscous.
- Toss everything together to blend. Add mayonnaise, cilantro and lime juice. Taste and adjust with salt and lime juice. Transfer to an airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge. Best serve cold.