Holiday Fruit & Nut Couscous Mix - An Epicurean and Eco-friendly Gift

Looking for a last-minute holiday gift that is truly one-size-fits-all, won’t bust even the most frugal of budgets and yet doesn’t look like a desperate dime-store find? Well, hold onto your holly, this jolly elf has come up with a festive gourmet food gift that will please everyone on your list - Holiday Fruit & Nut Couscous Mix.

Faster than the names of Rudolph and the other reindeer can be rattled off, you can be layering together a beautiful gift that looks like some significant time and effort went into the process. Shhh! It can be a little secret between you me and Santa that these gift jars of couscous mix were put together in less than 10 minutes! Made with healthy ingredients such as whole wheat couscous, dried fruit, nuts and aromatic herbs and poured into mason jars, jelly jars or recycled Litehouse dressing jars, these holiday gifts are definitely in good taste.

The fun part is assembling the edible gifts! The preparation is straightforward enough that young kids can be involved – the making process reminds me of my children’s past kindergarten sand art projects! Simply mix together the herb and seasoning blend separately, using convenient Instantly Fresh Herbs from Litehouse Foods (including Mint, Parsley and Red Onion)and then begin layering the ingredients into a jar.

To save money, I’ve used repurposed jars from Litehouse Food’s spoonable dressing lines like the Ranch Dressings and OPA Greek Yogurt Dressings. In a past post, I shared tips on how to clean and remove the labels on dressing bottles and jars – in a nutshell, pull out paper liner under lid with dull knife, remove the label using a hair dryer and sticky residue solvent (if needed), and wash lid and bottle in the dishwasher to sterilize. You don’t have to tell the recipient that the jar was recycled, but it will definitely appeal to your eco-friendly, epicurean friends!

After the mix has been layered into the jars and the lids screwed tightly back on, add the ribbon and holiday adornments of your choosing. Remember to write out the cooking instructions on a gift tag or recipe card and include with the gift (below). Cooking Instructions: "To make this Holiday Fruit & Nut Couscous, add 1 cup of water to 1 quart pot and bring to boil. Toss in entire contents of gift jar and stir to combine in pot. Top pot with lid and remove from heat; let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove lid and stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter. Serves 2-3."

The prepared couscous mix, studded with colorful fruit and nuts, makes a festive side dish to any holiday roast, turkey or fish dish. However, it also makes a hearty accompaniment to a vegetarian meal. Present a friend or family member with two jars, one for a holiday meal and the other to save for a busy weeknight dinner – remember, it only takes 5 minutes to prepare from pot to plate! Enjoy!

Holiday Fruit & Nut Couscous Recipe

Serves 2-3 People | Finish in 15 minutes
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Don’t go crazy looking for last-minute holiday gifts, go couscous! I have a festive and vegetarian-friendly make-ahead mix that can be layered beautifully into glass jars. A frugal and eco-friendly tip is to use a repurposed Litehouse Food dressing jar for these gourmet food gifts.

Ingredients

Supplies needed: 3 recycled 11-ounce Litehouse Food dressing jars or 3 new 12-ounce jelly or mason jars, ribbon, gift tags., • 1 tablespoon Instantly Fresh Mint, • 1 tablespoon Instantly Fresh Parsley, • 2 tablespoons Instantly Fresh Red onion, • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes that have been smashed into powder, • 1 teaspoon black pepper, • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pearl (Israeli) couscous, • 1 1/2 cups regular pearl (Israeli) couscous, • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios (can sub any nut), • 1 cup dried cranberries pomegranate blend (can sub any dried fruit),

Directions

In small bowl, mix together mint, parsley, red onion, crushed vegetable bullion and pepper. Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of spice mix into the bottom of clean, dry jar. Repeat for total of 3 jars. Layer in ingredients in a manner that pleases you until ½-inch from top. The approximate measurements I used for my layers were 1/3 cup for each couscous layer and 3 tablespoons for each fruit and/or nut layer. Screw lid tightly on and decorate with ribbon. Makes 3 gift jars that serve 2 - 3 people each. Cooking directions above in post.


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