Kabocha and Fennel over Couscous with Orange

Preparation info

  • Serves


    as a main course
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

By Elizabeth Schneider

Published 2001

  • About

“Kabocha couscous” sounds cute and tastes wonderful, but another sweet, relatively dry squash—such as Buttercup or Baby Blue Hubbard (you’ll need just half)—will serve as well. For a tart, creamy variation on this main dish, stir 16 cup yogurt into the squash when you serve it.


  • pounds kabocha squash
  • 1 fennel bulb with fluffy greens (about pounds)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • About ½ tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 juicy oranges (preferably organic), well scrubbed
  • Big pinch of saffron
  • Lemon juice
  • cups water (for couscous)
  • cups whole-wheat couscous (substitute white, if preferred)


    1. Cut kabocha into large pieces, as convenient (if necessary, for cutting directions). Remove seeds and pith. Cut into 1½-inch chunks and peel. Remove and reserve fluffy fennel leaves. Trim off stalks and fibrous layers. Dice bulb; set aside ¼ cup. Chop onion.
    2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy pot; add onion, garlic, and 1 tablespoon ginger. Cook over lowish heat to soften slightly. Add squash, remaining diced fennel, sugar, ¾ teaspoon salt, and fennel seeds. Cover and cook until mixture is just juicy, about 5 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, rinse, dry, and chop enough fennel fronds to make ½ cup. Mince the reserved cup fennel bulb. Grate zest from oranges; reserve. Halve oranges and squeeze juice. Measure and add enough water to equal 2 cups.
    4. Add juice mixture to pot, with saffron, and bring to a boil. Cook gently, covered, until squash is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes. Add remaining ginger to taste, lemon juice, and ½ tablespoon butter.
    5. Meanwhile, prepare couscous: Bring water to a boil with remaining ½ tablespoon butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in couscous and return to a boil. Add orange zest and minced fennel and fronds; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
    6. Fluff couscous into a warmed dish, separating grains with a fork. Ladle vegetables over couscous. Serve hot.