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).
Israeli Couscous Salad
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, and is ideal used in salads like in this recipe, or as a side like in this Syrian chicken.
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
MORE SUMMER SALADS to take to gatherings
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Potato Salad and Lemon Potato Salad
- Wild Rice Salad <– reader fave!
Everybody’s favourite Macaroni Salad
- 12 Minute Sun Dried Tomato Couscous Salad
Browse all Pasta Salads and Rice Salad
Israeli Couscous Salad
- 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
Lemon Dressing (Note 3):
- 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.
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.)