Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew /

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about fancy cooking and elaborate meals. If pasta making sounds too stressful, try this cozy one-pot stew that’s perfect for two. (With maybe a little leftover, if you eat less than we do).

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew /

It doesn’t get much easier than this – sauté leeks and mushrooms in an oven-safe pot or this adorable heart shaped one. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, couscous and – the fancy part – a few pinches of saffron. Yes, saffron is expensive but a little goes a long way. Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day so let’s live a little.

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew / Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew /

Pop it in the oven and bake until the couscous has absorbed most of the water, then stir in a few handfuls of spinach. The heat of the stew will wilt the spinach. Enjoy with crusty bread and a good spanish red wine.

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew /

4.7 from 7 reviews

saffron couscous & spinach stew

Serves: serves 2-3
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • about 1 cup sliced leeks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups chopped mushrooms
  • splash of sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 14 oz. can tomatoes
  • (up to) 14 oz. water
  • a few generous pinches of saffron
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • ½ cup cooked chickpeas, drained
  • ½ cup uncooked Israeli couscous
  • a few big handfuls of spinach
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium oven-proof pot, sauté leeks with salt and pepper. Once they're translucent, add garlic, mushrooms, and more salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and stir.
  3. Add tomatoes, saffron, smoked paprika, chickpeas and couscous. Fill your empty 14 oz. tomato can with water and add most of it to the pan. Stir, cover and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the stew is thick and the couscous is cooked. Remove from the oven and stir in the spinach until it's wilted and incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve.
You can make this in any oven-safe pot or small dutch oven. If your dish is larger, you might have to adjust the amount of water you use. (This heart cocotte is a little small - about 2 quarts).

Or use a larger dutch oven and double the recipe.

Products in this post: Staub Heart Cocotte


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Erin from

    Wow this looks amazing. Can’t wait to try this. Quick question – Did you use the tiny couscous or pearl couscous? I couldn’t quite tell from the pictures. Thanks!

    • jeanine

      I used the larger Israeli/pearl couscous (just fixed that in the recipe instruction!).

  2. meggie ek

    Looks delicious, and beautiful! What camera did you use to take the pictures? My husband and I do the exact same thing as you do for Valentine’s Day (stay in and take on a cooking project) and I am thinking of taking pictures of the results…

    • jeanine

      Hi Meggie, we use a Canon 5D Mark II

  3. Chai

    If I’m allergic to chickpeas – is there a substitute you recommend?

    • jeanine

      You can skip them and/or add in another veggie – I’ve added chopped zucchini to this before.

  4. Kathryn from

    I am such a big fan of couscous but I’ve never put it in a stew or soup before! This looks like such a cozy meal – and easy to make! I have a feeling I’ll end up making this for lunch next week and storing the leftovers in the fridge. Thanks for posting!

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket

    • jeanine

      the leftovers were delicious the next day!

    • jeanine

      thanks Jenn! 🙂

    • jeanine

      yep, you could! It’ll take just a little longer to wilt down than spinach 🙂

  5. Elyse from

    What a fabulous cooking pot!

  6. Eileen from

    This sounds so good! I’ve never baked Israeli couscous like this — it’s a really interesting idea.

  7. Catherine from

    Sounds like a delicious meal. This is one I would enjoy very much. xo Catherine

  8. cheyenne from

    this looks amazing! have to give it try. 🙂
    xo, cheyenne

  9. Lindsay

    Can this be made without the saffron?

    • jeanine

      yes, but you’ll want to add some other spices to taste

  10. Mathew Bracken

    I appreciate your work. Sure, I will try it on this valentine day for someone 🙂

  11. Kat

    I’m allergic to cous cous, would you recommend using rice as a substitute, or something else?

  12. I love this! Especially that it’s already portioned for two. And that it’s using couscous — we’re on a couscous kick lately! Pinned 🙂

  13. Ashley

    When does the paprika get added? It’s on the ingredient list, but not in the instructions. I missed adding it until the end – which probably explains why my 4 year old loved it….

  14. Shannon

    I made this tonight. Saffron is soooooooo expensive ($20 at my grocery store) but after Googling I saw that there really is no substitute for it. And I really don’t know much about cooking & flavors to know if the recipe needs it. I will also say that not knowing that much about cooking I wasn’t sure about the heat level for the sauteing…I put it on Medium heat & lowered it slightly after I put the mushrooms in because they are so delicate. The greener part of the leaks never really get translucent either. All things you learn from doing :)!

    All this being said…
    No leftovers though 🙁
    I used everything exactly per the recipe.

    • jeanine

      I’m so glad you liked it! Hopefully your saffron will last awhile (mine does- just keep it in a cool, dark place). Thanks for the feedback about the instructions – I’ll make them a little more clear 🙂

  15. mehrdad

    hello dear freind
    im mehrdad from producer of one of the best quality organic saffron in the world.(all red.dry.very good color because its thick.clean)
    i can send u on unbeliavable prices even in small amounts.for more information please contact me.
    with respect

  16. Having a major health overhaul, tried this recipie and it was soooo tasty, plus it was simple and made the kitchen smell heavenly. Unfortunately I had run out of the main ingredience (saffron) so I substituted it for a little turmeric.
    Will definately try out more recipies 🙂

  17. Madeline Roe

    This is a delicious recipe. I’ve now made it twice. I have a few recommended but minor tweaks. I substituted the water with vegetable stock. I also added grated pecorino romano cheese on top. I think this vastly improved the taste the second time around! Will make again!

  18. SM

    I just made this! I cooked it on my stove instead of baking it because I’m slightly terrified of my oven. Still turned out great 😀

    • SM

      Oh! I also put in two thai chilies and a parm rind while it was cooking down!

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        sounds delicious! I’m so glad you loved the recipe.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.