How to make couscous alla trapanese
How to make couscous alla trapanese Copyright Savin Mattozzi
Copyright Savin Mattozzi
Copyright Savin Mattozzi

Meal of the Week: How to end Ramadan with this delicious Sicilian Couscous alla Trapanese

By Savin Mattozzi
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Euronews Culture offers another favourite dish for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan


One of southern Italy’s perhaps surprising attributes is the influence of Arabic and Northern African culture. This influence is perhaps the most evident in Sicily. Besides being geographically close to North Africa, Sicily was occupied and established as an Islamic emirate for nearly 200 years between the ninth and 11th centuries. During that time, food and recipes were exchanged to form its quintessentially Mediterranean cuisine.

As Ramadan comes to an end, let's take a look at the particular legacy that Arabic and North African cooking has had on the island of Sicily.

One of the most popular dishes in western Sicily, specifically in the city of Trapani, is couscous alla Trapanese or simply put Trapani-style couscous.

Savin Mattozzi
Fluffy couscousSavin Mattozzi

Couscous is traditionally a dish eaten in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The roots of this Sicilian dish are thought to originate from when the island was under Islamic rule.

Sicilian couscous is nearly identical to its North African cousin with only a few differences and additions. Generally speaking, Sicilian couscous is limited to using just seafood as opposed to North African recipes that include chicken or lamb.

For this dish, you should get a mixture of at least 2-3 different kinds of seafood. I used some of the more common seafood in the region: swordfish, shrimp and anchovies.

Couscous alla Trapanese

Serves: around four people

Cooking time: around 20 minutes

Total time: 20-30 minutes

Savin Mattozzi
Ingredients for couscous alla trapaneseSavin Mattozzi


500g mixed fish and seafood

1 cup of couscous

2 cups of water

1 white onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

A bunch of parsley

2-3 bay leaves


Crushed red chilli peppers


A teaspoon of cinnamon

Olive oil

A tablespoon of tomato paste


A handful of cherry tomatoes

50g of almonds


  1. When they become fragrant add in the tomato paste, diced cherry tomatoes, crushed almonds, chilli peppers, parsley, salt and bay leaves. Stir well for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add your fish into the pan. Let the fish cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat.
Savin Mattozzi
Fish bubbling awaySavin Mattozzi
  1. Slowly add in the two cups of water and lower the flame to low heat. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the stew is done cooking, take it off the heat and scoop out the broth with a ladle into a bowel.
Savin Mattozzi
The dry couscous going inSavin Mattozzi

5. In a large flat pan, pour in your dry couscous and slowly add in the broth mixing well and quickly until the couscous is fluffy and has absorbed all of the broth. This process should take about 5-10 minutes.

Alternatively, if you’re in a hurry, you could put the couscous directly in the broth but the first method is the more traditional preferred way.


6. Once your couscous is ready, place into a small hill on your plate and put the fish on top of it. Usually in Sicily the dish is eaten with a spoon but you’re more than welcome to dig in with your hands.

Buon appetito!

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