This Curried Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower is a copycat recipe of Mendocino Farms (a chain restaurant in California). Cauliflower was roasted with a blend of spices, like curry powder, turmeric, cumin & coriander, then toss with Israeli couscous, mayo and lime juice. It is little sweet with a mild curry flavor. It would be a nice addition for any picnic or dinner party!
If you live in California and you love sandwiches, you probably have been to Mendocino Farms. Other than the classic turkey and Italian sandwiches, they have something more new and exciting, like Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi and Peruvian Steak Sandwich. We actually like those two a lot! Salads are also popular here. My go-to is the Save Drake Farm’s Salad, which has chicken, goat cheese, beets, apples, dried cranberries, roasted almond and lettuce with a citrus dressing. It was light, sweet and savory at the same time.
Wait… We are not done yet! The most exciting part is the side bar, where they have a few options, like salad and pasta salad. They give you free samples! And, this is where the famous curried couscous is. Every time I go there, I get a sample of the couscous. Even though I already knew how it tastes, I just want some. They are absolutely fantastic, except for the price. For a small (8 oz), it’s $4.50. For a large (16 oz), it’s $7.50. When you’re spent $10 – 12 on a sandwich, getting a $5 side seems way too much! Most of the time, we just got a sample and skipped the sides even though I love them very much.
This copycat recipe is super close to the original. It looks like it and it tastes like it. We had a friend to try this and he recognized this instantly. The secret is all in the blend of spices. There are curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and brown sugar. Couscous was lightly toasted and cooked in water until tender. Cauliflower florets and carrot cubes were combined with spice mix and roasted until slightly softened. When tossing the vegetables and couscous together, the flavors and colors of the curry and turmeric transferred to the couscous as well. Add mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro. Combine well and your side is almost ready. Transfer to fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
The couscous has a stunning yellow color. It’s cold, little sweet with a mild curry flavor. The slightly caramelized cauliflower gave a nice savory and nutty flavors, which brought a great contrast to the couscous. The lime juice helped to balance the richness from the mayonnaise. It is an excellent side dish for any meal. It would be excellent to take to a picnic or party too!
Mendocino Farms Curried Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for vegetables
- ½ pound Israeli (pearl) couscous or orzo pasta (about 1 2/3 cups)
- 3 1/3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon curry powder
- ½ tablespoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ head cauliflower
- 1 small carrot (peeled & cut into 1/8-inch cubes)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1½ tablespoons cilantro (minced)
- Juice of ¼ lime
- In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add couscous and cook them until lightly toasted, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add 3 1/3 cups water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 – 6 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, curry powder, turmeric, salt, coriander, cumin, & cayenne pepper. Blend well.
- In another small bowl, toss the carrots with 1 teaspoon olive oil and ¼ of the spices.
- For the cauliflower, cut or break the florets into small pieces, about ½-inch. In a large bowl, toss the florets with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and rest of the spices.
- Transfer the carrots to one side on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer the cauliflower florets to the other side of the baking sheet. Roast in the oven. After 8 minutes, check if the carrots are tender. If they are, transfer them into the bowl of couscous. Return the cauliflower to the oven and roast for another 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer them into the bowl of couscous.
- Toss everything together to blend. Add mayonnaise, cilantro and lime juice. Taste and adjust with salt and lime juice. Transfer to an airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge. Best serve cold.
- Curry powder can taste vary depends on brand. My favorite is Sun Brand Madras Curry Powder.
- This recipe can make 1 day ahead and keep in the fridge.
This is incredible– I took the plunge, bought the spices and made this with my boyfriend last night– it’s astounding how closely this mimics the actual dish Mendocino’s has! I made the full amount and am plowing through it embarrassingly quickly; it’s not as oily as the restaurant version, but it has the same taste, and texture. Love the recipe, thank you so much!
LOL! My husband and I ate everything at one sitting too! 😛 Thank you very much for coming back and letting me know how it went. You made my day! It’s so good to know you agreed this couscous tasted very similar to the original.
Have a wonderful weekend! <3
I just wanted to let you know that Mendo farms posted their own recipe for this dish, and I have to say– yours is by far superior– I haven’t had to buy this dish since I found your recipe, and for some reason it’s leagues better than the Mendocino farms version. Whatever it is, thanks again for the recipe 🙂
Hey JP! Wow, I didn’t hear that they published their recipe. Thanks for the update! And thank you so much for your kind words! It means a lot to me and motivates me to continue posting. Have a great weekend! ???
I was really excited to make this as I love the Mendo version, but I found this version to be overwhelmingly mayo-y. I didn’t even put in the whole half cup. Any suggestions?
Hi Julie, maybe you can try using half mayo and half greek yogurt. It should work, but I haven’t tried it.
Anna Disipio says
Is there cauliflower in the original? I’ve had the Mendo-couscous several times and never noticed any. It’s a welcome addition, I’m going to make this recipe as is.
Yes, Mendocino Farms has cauliflower in their couscous. The pieces are pretty small, so you may not have noticed. Enjoy! 🙂
I live walking distance to our nearest Mendocino Farms and this dish is the only reason why I go there. This recipe is amazing! I tried your recipe because we’ve been trying our best to stay indoors with all this Coronavirus craziness happening. We’re trying to avoid food delivery as well. When I served this to my husband, he actually thought I ordered take out ?
I had about an additional 3/4 cup of Israeli couscous and the spices were still perfect throughout! Thank you so much! If we ever get a bit of normalcy and potlucks are back in effect, I will be making this everytime!
Thank you so much Jenn! I’m so glad to hear that you guys love it! And to know that this dish gave you guys a sense of familiarity during this pandemic, that makes me happy. ❤️ Stay safe & hope we’ll be over this crisis very soon! ??
I just made this today-I have made this for several occasions in our family and it is always a hit. My college boys are all home quarantined— and love this dish. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks a lot Mishal! This makes me very happy. Thank you for letting me know. Stay safe!
I found that you can first mix the cauliflower+oil+3/4 of the spices and microwave for 2 minutes covered to par-cook them. Then add the seasoned carrots and par-cooked cauliflower to the sheet pan and roast everything together for around 8 minutes. Then all the vegetables can be added together. Saves the trouble of separating the carrots and cauliflower into separate roasting times.
Despite my optimization, good job figuring out the actual recipe!
Thank you for the great idea! I’ll have to try that next time. Have a good one!
Amy P. says
Absolutely delicious!!! My husband & I LOVE it, thank you! Living in Texas, I haven’t taken the opportunity to try the restaurant’s dish for comparison, but after trying your recipe, I will definitely have to dine at Mendocino Farmsthe next time I’m in LA. ?
Thank you so much Amy! So glad to hear that! Yes, definitely check out Mendocino Farms next time. I really like their pork belly Banh Mi & Save Drake Farms salad.
This is great, though I recall this side having a lot more heat. I would use 1/4 t. Or even 1/2 t. Of Cayenne Pepper, but otherwise I think it’s good as is. Thanks for posting it!
Thanks Eric. I think the couscous was pretty mild. But definitely add more if you like more heat.
Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I made this today for my family and they loved it. I think it’ll taste even better once it sits in the fridge overnight. I added more salt and cayenne pepper than listed. Very pleased with the results!
Thank you so much Brenda! Great to hear that you guys like this!
Hello! Thank you for the recipe, it is always delicious. Any suggestions on what could be served with it if used as a side dish?
Thank you Lexi, so glad you liked this! I see this couscous like a pasta salad, so anything like steak, roasted chicken and grilled salmon would go really well with it.