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Warm Moroccan Couscous Salad (and Tricks for Getting Your Kids to Try a New Dish)

couscous salad

Kids can be resistant to trying new foods. It can be easy to fall into a rut of spaghetti and tacos just because you know they’ll eat them. But when you’re tiring of the same old thing and want to try something new, there are little ways to entice your kids to expand their horizons. Take this recipe below from the National Pasta Association. As a mom you might see that this couscous salad incorporates eggplant and hot sauce and go running for the hills. But with a couple of tricks, you can serve a new dish like this, no problemo.

Warm Moroccan Couscous Salad
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups sliced onion
  • 2 cups ½” cubed eggplant
  • 2 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the onion, seasoning with salt and pepper, until soft and starting to brown (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the eggplant, stir together with the onions. Cover and cook until softened (about 3 minutes).
  3. Add the ginger and garlic, stirring to caramelize. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and sriracha. Stir to bloom the spices.
  5. Add the carrots, red pepper, and couscous. Stir to mix everything well.
  6. Add 2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Stir in cilantro and divide between bowls.


Tips for Introducing a New Recipe

Pair it with an option. Serve a new recipe as a side dish next to a staple you know they’ll eat. Don’t make it complicated so that you’re cooking two separate meals, though. Think grilled chicken or slices of turkey.

Incorporate favorites. If your child is resistant to trying new veggies, be sure at least one favorite is included. The above recipe includes carrots, which are a hit with most kids. Don’t be afraid to adjust the recipe to add more of their favorites and remove foods they’ll want to hide in their pockets.

Watch the spice. Don’t go overboard with heat as that’s a surefire way to get a kid to ask for PB&J. A little spice is okay, but you can always adjust once you’ve dished out the kids’ meals.

Garnish optional. Sometimes a dish will call for cilantro or parsley. If your child is resistant to the color green in food, add the herbs once you’ve served them. The goal is to get them to try it; they don’t have to necessarily try it as the recipe creator intended.

Make it a habit. Try new foods regularly so that your kids will get used to getting out of their culinary comfort zones. The more they practice, the more their tastes will expand.

Do you try new recipes regularly? How do your kids respond? My kids are either pleasantly surprised or hate it with a fiery passion. There is no in between. —Erin

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