Also known as Pearl or Gourmet Couscous, Israeli Couscous is the giant forms of the more common tiny couscous. With a taste and texture almost like pasta, but a unique pearly, slippery surface, it makes a fabulous side or salad. This Israeli Couscous Salad is utterly addictive! (And I love that it can be eaten with a spoon).
The immature child within wants to call this a Giant Couscous Salad. But the proper name is Israeli Couscous Salad, so I went with sensible. But now I’m kind of regretting it!
Israeli Couscous is the big brother of the more common tiny couscous. Commonly mistaken as a grain, couscous is actually a type of pasta. While the tiny couscous can be prepared by soaking in hot water, Israeli Couscous needs to be simmered on the stove. In my view, the most delicious way to do this is to cook it like risotto, starting with sautéed garlic and onion then using broth instead of water. This infuses the couscous with so much flavor, you can even serve it plain as a side.
It just dawned of me while writing this up that this salad looks alarmingly similar to the Sexy Lentil Salad I only shared a couple of weeks ago. I even use the same Lemon Dressing, and both use tomatoes and cucumbers.
And they are both salads made with small beady things. (Yes, I’m aware my creative writing skills need serious work. “Beady”????)
But I promise you – a million times over – that is where the similarities finish. This Israeli Couscous Salad is quite different to the Sexy Lentil Salad – not least because I went with a sensible name for this salad and a cheeky name for the latter. 😉 Lentils taste nutty. Giant couscous tastes like pasta. And I’ve given this salad a Mediterranean spin.
So while the obvious pairing would be with all things Mediterranean, I especially love serving this with Middle Eastern spiced things – like Chicken Shawarma which is pictured below. It works really well because the bright fresh flavours of the Israeli Couscous Salad are a terrific contrast to the earthy, complex flavours of Middle Eastern flavours. Plus, it’s carbs and a salad in one.
Other similar spiced mains include Middle Eastern Lamb Koftas and Turkish Koftas. I also think it would be stellar with Greek Meatballs, yoghurt marinated Greek Chicken (skip the wraps in the Gyros) or even Slow Roasted Greek Lamb. Gosh, I didn’t realise until now how many Greek recipes I’ve done! See them all here. 🙂
There is a deceptively large amount of greens packed into this salad. Because the beads of couscous are so small relative to, for example, pasta, there’s a lot more “stuff” for veggies to be stirred into. I’m not really explaining it very well! But if (WHEN!!!) you make this, you’ll feel like there’s a ton of greens for just 1.5 cups of couscous, but the couscous expands when cooking and once it’s all tossed together, it seems like just the right amount.
Salad that can be eaten with a spoon!
Why does it feel so immature that this appeals to me so much??? – Nagi xx
PS New York travel update coming soon! Suffice to say, we’ve been having a blast. Did I mention why I’m here? Well, it’s because my brother, sister and I gave mum a trip to NYC for mother’s day this year and I was nominated to accompany her. I know, I know. We spoil her rotten. We remind her regularly how lucky she is to have us as her kids! 😉
Also known as Pearl or Gourmet Couscous, the big brother version of the more common small couscous makes for fabulous salads and sides. The texture and taste of Israeli Couscous is like pasta – it is soft but a bit chewy, but has a pearly, slippery surface. This is a terrific nutritious loaded salad that’s satisfying enough to have as a meal! Tossed with my favourite Lemon Dressing. Recipe VIDEO below.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- ½ small onion , finely chopped
- 250 g / 8 oz / 1.5 cups Israeli Couscous (Note 1)
- 1 ½ cups / 375 ml vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup / 250 ml water
- 2 cucumbers , diced (about 2 cups)
- 250 g / 8 oz cherry tomatoes , halved (about 2 cups)
- 3 cups baby spinach , finely sliced (Note 2)
- ¼ cup coriander / cilantro , finely chopped (or sub with parsley)
- ¼ cup dill , finely chopped
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup / 65 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1 tsp sugar , optional
- ½ tsp salt + black pepper
Heat oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, saute until the onion is translucent and starting to brown.
Add couscous and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add broth and water, place the lid on and turn the heat down to medium low.
Cook for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is cooked through but still firm. Use a fork to separate the couscous, then transfer into a large bowl to cool. (Don’t worry if it gets sticky, it will separate when tossed with Dressing).
Place Dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.
Add Salad ingredients into the bowl, pour over Dressing and toss. Serve at room temperature.
1. Israeli Couscous is also known as Pearl Couscous or Gourmet Couscous or Gourmet Pearl Couscous. Basically, they are the giant form of the more common tiny couscous! Some recipes say to use a ratio of 1 cup of couscous to 2 cups of water. I find this makes the couscous too soft and gummy on the outside. Mine are cooked through and soft but “pearl like” on the outside rather than gummy, using a ratio of 1 cup couscous to 1.5 cups liquid.
In Australia, you will find it in the pasta aisle of Woolworths and Coles next to ordinary tiny couscous, and it costs around the same.
2. Use about 2 handfuls of baby spinach (approx. 50g / 2 oz), or even ordinary spinach leaves. Kale and silverbeet would also work well (remove the tough stem in the middle of each leaf). Be generous – this is a great way to pack lots of greens into this salad because it mixes through so well. Hidden greens!
3. The Lemon Dressing I use in this salad is my “go to” Lemon Dressing. I recently used it in my Sexy Lentil Salad which is proving to be very popular – certainly didn’t expect to find so many fellow lentil lovers around here! In this salad, I make the dressing a touch tarter by using less oil because I think the Israeli Couscous can take it. But if you prefer creamier, just add a wee bit more oil.
4. STORAGE: The dressed salad keeps quite well for 2 days – after that the herbs are a bit too wilted. But it is best served fresh. If you are making ahead, keep the Dressing separate until just before serving.
5. OTHER WAYS TO SERVE: This way of cooking the couscous flavours it so you can even serve the couscous plain as a side dish. If you want, dress it up a bit with a sprinkle of herbs, or a squeeze of lemon juice. Just imagine the possibilities!
6. WHAT TO SERVE THIS WITH: This Israeli Couscous Salad has bright Mediterranean flavours so while the obvious pairing would be with all things Mediterranean, I think it goes particularly well with complex earthy flavours of Middle Eastern spices such as Chicken Shawarma which is pictured in the post, Middle Eastern Lamb Koftas and Turkish Koftas. It would also be stellar with Greek Meatballs, yoghurt marinated Greek Chicken (skip the wraps in the Gyros), Souvlaki, Portuguese Chicken (skip the bread) or even Slow Roasted Greek Lamb. See my Greek recipes here and Middle Eastern recipe here.
7. Serves 4 as a meal or 6 - 8 as a side. Nutrition is per serving, assuming 4 servings.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Israeli Couscous recipe video. I need a serious dose of this when I get back to Sydney – undo all the NYC indulgence!
LIFE OF DOZER
Teamwork! 😂 (Dozer on the left, his “sister” Aggie on the right who is part of the family of Golden Retrievers he is staying with while I am away.)