Israeli Couscous


Toasted pearl couscous with pistachios and pine nuts, chewy raisins, a hint of cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon combine in this incredibly flavorful Israeli Couscous dish.

Perfect as a side dish or an easy lunch all on its own, this is one couscous recipe you need to try straight away.

Israeli Couscous

Israeli Couscous

Over a year ago, my sister, Jenny, told me that she had a dish she wanted to make for me and described this Israeli Couscous. I’ve looked forward to trying it ever since the first time she mentioned it.

This past month, we finally had the chance to make this recipe together. Served with Pan Fried Chicken Thighs, this is a meal that is as perfect as it can possibly be.

Savory pine nuts and pistachios coupled with sweet raisins and flavorful mediterranean herbs and spices make Israeli Couscous recipe stand out. It’s so much better than just about any other couscous recipe I’ve tried.

I loved this couscous so much, I hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge and helped myself to them frequently over the next couple days.

This is a wonderfully easy side dish that is substantial enough to stand alone for a meal. Israeli Couscous keeps fabulously in the refrigerator and I can see myself making future batches to eat for my lunches all week long.

What is Couscous?

Couscous looks and cooks very similar to grains like rice and barley but it’s actually pasta! If you’ve only ever had traditional couscous, the itty bitty pieces that have a powdery texture, you might be surprised by Pearl Couscous.

This type of couscous (also called Israeli Couscous) is little round balls of pasta. Pearl Couscous are slightly chewy, a little bit nutty, have a satisfying bite, and taste absolutely nothing like traditional couscous.

Couscous is popular in mediterranean cooking but it’s also a way to shake things up if you’re tired of the usual rice and pasta side dishes. It goes so well in salads and stir-fries and is super easy to cook.

I am head over heels in love with this dish and I can’t encourage you enough to try it for yourself.

israeli couscous in large skillet with broth

How to Cook Couscous

Couscous gets much of its flavor by toasting it in oil or butter in a pan prior to cooking it water or broth. In this recipe, the dried couscous is added to a pan with melted butter along with chopped onions and a cinnamon stick that adds such a nice level of flavor.

Once brown and toasty, I add chicken broth to the couscous and simmer it all until the couscous is perfectly tender. Your couscous will be ready to enjoy in less than 10 minutes making it the ideal side dish for busy nights.

Couscous stores well in an airtight container in the fridge and freezes well too.

Browned couscous in skillet

Israeli Couscous Recipe

Kitchen Tip: I use this skillet to make this recipe.

  1. Warm the oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the pine nuts and pistachios to the skillet. Saute until toasted and fragrant. Remove from the skillet to a plate or small dish.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet and then add the onion, couscous, and cinnamon stick. Cook, while stirring frequently, until browned.
  3. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the couscous is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the barberries, raisins, toasted nuts, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Taste and salt as needed.

Cooking tip: Use caution when salting the final dish. Most store-bought chicken broth will provide enough salt that you won’t need to add much salt at all. If you are using homemade chicken broth, be sure to use enough salt to bring out the flavors.

Israeli Couscous (aka pearl couscous) is technically a pasta!
What are Barberries?

Barberries are a Middle Eastern dried fruit. They are very tart and you need to rehydrate them prior to adding them to the dish. They aren’t required, but they do add a distinct flavor to the dish. It is definitely worth the effort of locating them if possible.

I’m linking to them here, but you can also find them at most markets that sell Middle Eastern foods. (If you are using barberries, place them in the bottom of a coffee mug or heatproof cup and cover with boiling hot water. Let them sit for 15 minutes and rinse the barberries before adding them to the dish.)

barberries

Once you make this Israeli Couscous recipe you might find yourself wanting to make Pearl Couscous over and over again, eating it just as it is or enjoying it in Summer Israeli Couscous Salad (one of my favorite lunches). Check out this Easy Tomato Cucumber Couscous from She Wears Many Hats for another super simple and quick way to enjoy couscous.

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Servings: 6 servings

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  • Warm the oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the pine nuts and pistachios to the skillet. Saute until toasted and fragrant. Remove from the skillet to a plate or small dish. Melt the butter in the skillet and then add the onion, couscous, and cinnamon stick. Cook, while stirring frequently, until browned.

  • Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the couscous is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the barberries, raisins, toasted nuts, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Taste and salt as needed. Enjoy!

Use caution when salting the final dish. Most store-bought chicken broth will provide enough salt that you won’t need to add much salt at all. If you are using homemade chicken broth, be sure to use enough salt to bring out the flavors.
Barberries are a Middle Eastern dried fruit. They are very tart and you need to rehydrate them prior to adding them to the dish. They aren’t required, but they do add a distinct flavor to the dish. It is definitely worth the effort of locating them if possible.
I’m linking to them here, but you can also find them at most markets that sell Middle Eastern foods. (If you are using barberries, place them in the bottom of a coffee mug or heatproof cup and cover with boiling hot water. Let them sit for 15 minutes and rinse the barberries before adding them to the dish.)

Calories: 363kcal · Carbohydrates: 53g · Protein: 10g · Fat: 13g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Cholesterol: 10mg · Sodium: 690mg · Potassium: 322mg · Fiber: 4g · Sugar: 1g · Vitamin A: 138IU · Vitamin C: 8mg · Calcium: 35mg · Iron: 2mg

original recipe adapted with thanks to my sister Jenny and Trader Joe’s

{originally published 1/8/15 – recipe notes and photos updated 11/1/22}

Israeli couscous is a side dish that will have you coming back for more!

Francis

Self Employed For the Longest Time Since Graduating from Industrial Management Engineering Minor In Mechanical, I know a bit of everything. I love to eat out and it shows in my physique. Lived in counties where there are lots of sinful eating, exotic foods, junk food, real food you name it.

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