Pearl Couscous with Roasted Pumpkin and Medjool Dates

Instead of making a jack-o'-lantern, use your pumpkin to create this delicious—and nutritious—Middle-Eastern-style dinner.

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


As every kid knows, pumpkins are a symbol of fall. But what can you do with the orange squash besides carve it? Transform this everyday veggie into something elegant by adding a simple combination of fresh herbs, grated lemon, and toasted nuts! The Medjool dates add a hint of sweetness and complement the earthy flavor of the pumpkin. (Reprinted from Flavor First by Cheryl Forberg. Copyright (c) 2011 by Cheryl Forberg. By permission of Rodale, Inc.)

Pearl Couscous with Roasted Pumpkin and Medjool Dates

Makes 8 ¾-cup servings

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Medjool dates or prunes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 5 cups diced pumpkin or winter squash, such as Hubbard or kabocha (about 1 ¼ pounds)
  • 4 large shallots, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 ¼ cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole wheat Israeli pearl couscous
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish

Combine the dates or prunes, walnuts, cheese, parsley, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Combine the pumpkin or squash, shallots, and oil in a medium bowl and toss well. Transfer to a baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin starts to brown but is still holding its shape.

Combine the broth, salt (if desired), cumin, and cinnamon in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add the couscous. Stir to coat, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or as directed on the couscous package. When the couscous is coked, add the roasted vegetables and date mixture and toss gently to combine. Garnish with the cilantro. Serve hot.

Calories: 170

Protein: 6 g

Total Fat: 6 g (Sat. Fat: <1 g)

Sodium: 230 mg

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Carbohydrates: 32 g

Fiber: 6 g

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. Hi, Carl. You’re right—not all pumpkins are designed to be eaten. Those big, ole field pumpkins that you find in front of stores in the fall are specifically bred to be carved as jack-o’-lanterns; they’re just too hollow and stringy to yield much food. If you’re going to roast a pumpkin (either to make a pie or something more savory like the couscous recipe above), you’ll want to get a baking pumpkin from the produce department. They will be smaller than the field pumpkins (although not as small as those tiny, hard, decorative ones that people sit around their houses for months). One type that is good for eating is called a sugar pumpkin. If you have trouble finding the baking pumpkins at your local market, just ask the friendly grocers there, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction!

  2. I have been told that not all the pumpkins grown for Jack-o-Lantern carving are suitable for using as food. Is this true? And if so, how do you know which are edible and which should not be used for cooking or baking?? Thank you.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *