Israeli Cous Cous with Roasted Sweet Potato and Collard Greens

On Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, my local Whole Foods store is kind enough to provide me large trash bags full of their vegetable compost - well, they’re actually providing it to my pigs, but the pigs haven’t learned to drive just yet, and someone has to handle the transport.

The loot is wildly popular with the swine, as indicated by their enthusiastic grunting at the rustle of the trash bag, and their general enthusiasm at seeing me, which I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with my sparkling personality, and everything to do with a Pavlovian feed-me-the-good-stuff reaction to the sight of the trash bag lady.

We’ve only been collecting the compost for a couple of months, and I’m certainly not privy to order information in the produce department, so I can’t know the stocked-to-sales ratio, but my observations indicate that humans do not like hearty greens very much at all. They also eschew fennel (the horror! oh, but the pigs do love it so), and, most surprising to me, as I regard it as a mainstream staple veggie, people don’t seem to love broccoli as much as I’d expect.

I admit it. I’m rather taken aback by this shocking news, as broccoli, fennel, and those hearty greens are among my favorite vegetables.

The pigs are more than happy to eat what the Providence-area humans will not, though they, too, have their favorite treats amongst the cast-offs.

Coincidentally, and happily for us here on the tiny farm, these favorites turn out to be nearly completely analogous to the foods that the humans do not like. Kale, collards, and fennel are all worthy of a few extra happy grunts, possibly even some tail wagging (yes, they do wag their tails), and prancing around.

Perhaps the greens waste is a case of supply outpacing demand. After all, once one plants collard greens, one may not be able to keep up with its prolificacy, particularly in more temperate zones.

Earlier this spring, I had the opportunity to see, in person, something I had only heard rumor of on seed purveyors’ websites: collard greens that had overwintered in Massachusetts.

As was the case with the web legend greens, these collards were grown on Cape Cod, a milder climate than that at our house due to the moderating effect of the ocean, yet still northerly enough to be remarkable.

However, my friend, Tamar, owner of these magical plants, was overrun by the greens, and, I’m guessing saw them as much as a bane as she did a blessing. “Free food. The same food. Free food. The same food.” You can see the quandary she’d be in, right?

In our garden, I have willingly and knowingly entered into what I expect will be a very productive union with 9 collard green plants, along with 8 or so (there are some babies sprouting up as well, perhaps we’ll keep them) kale plants, some Red Russian, some Lacinato. Have I mentioned that I love hearty greens?

Six of the collard plants were bought as starts for a whopping $1.95. The other few were started from seed, as was the kale, and those direct-sown plants are all too wee for harvesting just yet.

Oh, but the six collards for $1.95? Those bad boys are in need of a trim. It’s not all just asparagus and eggs here, though we have been doing our best to eat what we’ve got on the property.

Sidebar: I feel I must mention that we have been eating asparagus from our patch every other night for five weeks now – not bad for an initial investment of twenty-one dollars for twenty-one plants 4 years ago. I’m just sayin’.

Returning to the main topic: The realization that the collards needed eating, and the discovery of two sad, neglected sweet potatoes – a natural pairing for the greens – and a small vat of whole wheat Israeli cous cous caused this eat-whatcha-got side dish to happen.

It’s not just pretty (look at those colors! check out the textures!), it’s also addictively flavorful. If you hate collards, give kale or chard a try in its place.

It’s also worth noting that the cinnamon-cayenne seasoning (plus thyme, salt, and pepper) is great on its own for roasted sweet potatoes anytime the sweet-spicy-starchy side dish craving hits.

Israeli Cous Cous with Roasted Sweet Potato and Collard Greens

Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 pound sweet potato (approximately 2 small or 1 large - it's okay if it's a little over a pound), peeled, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds, the rounds then sliced into cubes approximately 1/2-inch in size
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry Israeli cous cous (whole wheat or white)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4-pound collard greens, washed, stems removed, sliced crosswise into 1-inch thick strips
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably Grade B Dark Amber*
  • 1 green onion (scallion), trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the sweet potato chunks in a medium mixing bowl, then toss them with the olive oil, thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  3. Transfer the sweet potato to a 9 by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet, and arrange the chunks in a single layer. Bake until they are golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring them midway through the cooking time to keep from having blackened sweet potato on one side, free range egg yolk-hued sweet potato on the other.
  4. While the sweet potato roasts, prepare the cous cous according to the manufacturer's directions.
  5. Around 30 minutes into the sweet potato cooking time, bust out with your large saute pan or cast iron skillet, place it on a burner of your choosing, turn the heat up to medium-high, pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the shallot, and saute until it is softened and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the collard greens, and saute until they are just softened and are a deep grass green, 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. I like my collards with a little crunch. If you prefer your collards softer, go ahead and keep cooking until they're to your liking. If you aren't sure, taste them at 5 minutes in, then keep going until you're happy with them.
  7. Add the cous cous and the sweet potato to the saute pan with the collards, pour in the maple syrup, stir it all up, season with salt and pepper, and serve it forth. It's a good partner for grilled chicken or pork chops, country style spare ribs, or pork tenderloin, and also makes for a fantastic meat-free lunch option.

Estimated cost for 4 servings: $10.80. Sweet potato costs $2.99 per pound, so $2.99 it is. The olive oil we use is the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand, which costs $5.99 for 67 tablespoons. The cost for olive oil in the entire dish is 36-cents. The thyme would be very inexpensive if you bought a plant two years ago and grew it in a pot so it could live in your house during the winter, otherwise, we’ll estimate a dollar for the purchase. The spices should cost in the range of 21-cents (7-cents for the cayenne, 14-cents for the cinnamon from their respective containers). The cous cous is 1/4 of a container that costs $6.79, so that runs us $1.70. The shallot should cost no more than 75-cents. The collards are $2.99 per pound at Whole Foods, less at my regional grocery chain, but we’ll go with the higher price (and they are nearly free from seeds in the garden, which is sweet), so $2.25 on the higher end of the collard green weight range. The maple syrup costs $10.99 for 12 ounces (roughly 24 tablespoons), so $1.37, and one scallion is probably 1 of a pack of 6 for 99-cents, so 17-cents (those grow well in the garden, too, by the way). We never count salt and pepper, so there’s that. This lands us at $2.70 per serving for 4 people, or $1.80 per serving for 6 people.

*Grade B Dark Amber maple syrup has a more pronounced maple flavor. Don’t stress if you can’t find it, though. Just go ahead and use maple syrup you have on hand (eat-watcha-got, right?), or what’s easiest for you to locate at your local grocery, farmers market, or farm stand.

20 Comments to Israeli Cous Cous with Roasted Sweet Potato and Collard Greens

  1. Manda says:

    Oh my goodness, that looks amazing!!

  2. I will teach the pigs to drive to Whole Foods Providence so that I can see their reaction first hand when the crinkly bags are handed over.

    • Amy says:

      There’s one more intelligent and assertive than the other. That would be Prudence. She’ll probably be able to drive stick by the time you’ve gone to Providence and back once. Well, if you have a standard transmission car, that is. Otherwise, she’ll probably be ready to give lessons to humans and farm animals on an automatic after that one trip. I would like to see her face the first time she saw the produce stacks, though. That would be some good stuff, for sure!

  3. Eileen says:

    Oh, so beautiful! I love Israeli couscous and am always looking for excuses to eat it–and this combination with sweet potatoes and greens is an excellent excuse. :)

  4. This looks great! I have never tried Israeli couscous, but I just got a container. I will have to try this.

    • Amy says:

      Laura, I hope that you like the Israeli cous cous! I love the texture, and it’s great both warm and in cold salads. Enjoy!

  5. Cathy Walthers says:

    can’t wait to try this – maybe this week for my client – looks delicious

    • Amy says:

      Cathy!! So nice to hear from you! I hope that you (and your client) like the cous cous, and I hope to see you SOON, young lady!

  6. Now that is a beautiful thing. As it happens, I’ve finally (finally!) run out of collards because they bolted beyond the point where I could restrain them. Luckily, I’ve got kale up the wazoo. And Israeli couscous. And Grade B maple syrup.

    I’m one sweet potato away from this dish.

    Thanks for the shout-out!

    • Amy says:

      I can’t but barely believe it! However, you (and Kevin!) do deserve a break from collards. Though I’m willing to bet that Kevin doesn’t think that kale by the bushel is much of a break. Hopefully once that sweet potato comes waltzing through your door, he’ll like this dish. And my pleasure on the shout-out!

  7. Amy,

    After seeing you post about this (on instagram, I think), I made something very similar later that week. And then I made it again, again and again. I used kale, added golden raisins, some dukkah-roasted chicken (my other obsession), and other little bobs and bits that were close to withering in my crisper. It’s become my go-to lunch of the summer, since it’s a) delicious b) healthy and c) able to be made in mass quantities. Thanks for the inspiration! -Shelby

    • Amy says:

      Shelby, that sounds absolutely amazing. I’m glad that I helped start a little something, but you have clearly upped the goodness ante with your version! Thank you for the thanks!

  8. TaraBeth says:

    thanks for sharing this recipe! I was googling recipes for potatoes, collard greens, and Israeli couscous (not expecting to find anything) and stumbled upon this gem! It was fantastic! Wrote about it in my blog and linked back here to you – hoping others will try it, too! :)

  9. Amy McCoy says:

    Hi TaraBeth! I love that our random love of potatoes, Israeli cous cous, and collard greens brought you here! Thank you for sharing the love on Healthy Every Day NYC, too!

  10. jennifer says:

    Absolutely delicious

  11. Brenda says:

    What is the green onion for?

    • Amy says:

      Oh geez, Brenda, sorry about that, and thank you for catching the omission! The green onion is garnish, and isn’t necessary, but I’m a big fan of topping with green onion. I’ll correct that! Thanks again!

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