Israeli Couscous Salad
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.
Servings: 4 - 8 people
- 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.
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.