This no-fail pearl couscous dish is fresh and light, making it the perfect side dish for protein-rich entrees. It’s quick to cook (15 minutes total!) and offers a deliciously chewy pasta texture. Made with a tangy, spicy flavour, you won’t be able to get enough of this yummy dish. This no-fail recipe is also great for meal prep during the week!
Table of Contents
Easy – You only need a few ingredients for this pearl couscous recipe.
Tasty – This tangy, spicy pearl couscous dish is utterly delicious.
Simple – This yummy recipe only requires a few steps.
Fresh – Simple ingredients help keep this recipe light yet flavourful.
Budget-friendly – It can’t get much better than £0.73 per serving!
Chewy – Each bite of this cooked pearl couscous is tender, chewy, and delicious.
Pearl couscous is a type of pasta made with water and semolina flour. It’s larger than Moroccan couscous. You’ll know you’re eating pearl couscous when each grain is about the size of a pea.
What does it look and taste like?
It has a round, sphere-like shape (similar to a pearl!). This type of pasta features a yummy, nutty taste that pairs well with many dishes.
How is it different from regular couscous?
The main differences between pearl couscous and regular couscous are the size and colour. It’s typically paler than regular couscous. It also has a chewier texture.
Is it just pasta?
It is a type of pasta. However, it has a toasted nutty flavour since the semolina is toasted during the creation process. So, it will taste different than regular pasta.
Is it healthy? Healthier than regular couscous? Than quinoa? Than brown rice?
Yes, pearl couscous is healthy! It has a lot of fibre, so it helps you stay full between meals, especially if you pair it with protein and veg. It is about the same healthwise as other types of couscous, though it has less protein than the whole grain variety. Pearl couscous is slightly lower in calories than quinoa, though it has fewer nutrients than brown rice. Overall, it’s an excellent grain to incorporate into your diet.
There are a few differences between Moroccan couscous and pearled couscous. For one, their size is quite different. Moroccan couscous is the smallest type of couscous, so it cooks much more quickly. Since pearl couscous is larger, it soaks up flavour more easily than Moroccan couscous. Both are made from semolina flour, offering a similar taste and consistency.
No, pearl couscous is not gluten-free. It’s made from semolina, which is a type of wheat. However, you can purchase pearl couscous options, which are gluten-free. Gluten-free varieties are typically made with tapioca starch and potatoes instead of semolina.
I love using pearl couscous in this recipe since it has a delicious, chewy texture. However, you can use other types of couscous, like golden or whole wheat.
You can easily add a fresh flavour to pearl couscous recipes by using fresh veggies like cucumber. In this recipe, I include quick pickled cucumber. However, you can use other veg like carrots in this dish instead.
The freshness in this recipe also comes from the chopped parsley. If you prefer, you can use other herbs like basil instead.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
These variations will help you create pearl couscous you’ll want to eat daily. If you need a gluten-free option, swap out the pearl couscous for a gluten-free version or quinoa. You can also use rice vinegar instead of fresh lemon juice for a similarly tangy taste.
Another way to adjust the flavour is by adding herbs/spices or other veggies (like cherry tomatoes). Since this dish is simple, altering it to your taste preferences is easy. If you want an even tangier Israeli couscous salad, add some lemon zest to the recipe.
3. Meanwhile, finely chop the fresh parsley (Image 3).
4. Add the parsley to a large bowl with the sliced black olives (Image 4).
5. Once the cous cous is ready, drain and rinse in cold water until cool (Image 5).
6. To a large bowl, add the couscous, finely chopped fresh parsley, lemon juice, black olives and a generous pinch of salt and pepper (Image 6).
Meanwhile, add the diced cucumber to a bowl with rice vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes and leave to quick pickle.
7. Mix the couscous together all the ingredients together with a spatula (Image 7).
8. Serve with the quick pickled cucumbers and enjoy! (Image 8).
Cook couscous according to the package
Each couscous requires a different cook time, so it’s best to follow the packet instructions when making pearl couscous.
Use stock, not water to cook pearl couscous
Since couscous is meant to soak up flavour, using stock when cooking it instead of water is necessary. Using water will leave you with a bland couscous recipe.
Toast the couscous
If you want to boost the flavour more, you can toast the couscous in the pan with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil first. Then, follow the directions noted in the recipe to cook Israeli couscous.
Fluff with a fork
Once you have the cooked couscous ready, fluff it with a fork to help separate the pieces. Then, proceed with the other steps to create pearl couscous salad.
Seafood – Most seafood recipes pair well with this pearl couscous dish, especially if they’re Mediterranean-inspired. Try making shrimp, salmon, or swordfish with this dish.
Beef – Meatballs, steak, and other beef dishes pair well with this yummy recipe.
Soup – If you want a lighter meal, pair this couscous side dish with a creamy vegetable soup (like butternut squash or tomato) or try these tasty soup recipes; Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque, Courgette Soup and Celeriac Soup
I prefer using regular salt for pearl couscous since it features smaller pieces and it mixes in more easily than kosher salt.
No, you don’t have to toast your pearl couscous before cooking it. When making Israeli couscous recipes, I add the couscous straight to the stock to save time. However, you can toast it for a more flavourful dish.
Yes, you can bake pearl couscous. Place it in a pan with stock, seasoning, and add-ins, then bake for about 20 minutes at 220°C/425°F.
You may find your couscous bland if you did not add enough salt/pepper, stock, or chilli flakes. Ensure you use stock (not plain water) along with seasoning, and you should have a flavourful dish.
Yes, if you want to swap out orzo for couscous, you can. You will need to cook orzo for about eight minutes when using it as a substitute in this recipe.
To make this dish gluten-free, simply swap out the regular couscous for a gluten-free version. It’s also necessary to select stock which is labelled gluten-free
If you tried this Israeli Couscous recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x