[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

When I think of couscous, I immediately imagine some gloriously sunny afternoon near the Mediterranean. You know what I don't think about? A wintery January day in Chicago, especially one where there's a foot of snow on the ground and I have to shovel the sidewalk. But perhaps my strange weather association has more to do with the ingredients that go with the couscous than the actual tiny spheres of semolina. If that's the case, why not adapt it to my needs?

That explains what roasted butternut squash and apples are doing here, and both do a hell of job making this dish more warming and comforting. The butternut squash pieces are sweet and creamy, while the apples stay tart and acidic. Perhaps not wanting to cut ties with the Mediterranean sea completely, I made a pitstop in Spain, adding in chorizo and smoked paprika. But those additions add heft and depth, which kind of goes along with my interpretation, anyway.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.

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