Pearl Couscous Salad

If you haven’t met pearl couscous yet, then it’s high time you did. Despite its name, pearl couscous differs from the finely-grained North African semolina couscous, typically served with tagines. Pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, is made of baked wheat instead of semolina, and its granules are much larger in size, similar to fregola sarda. It retains it’s shape while cooking, and, before simmering in liquid to soften, it should be sauteed in olive oil which imparts a lovely golden hue and toasted flavor. It’s delicious simply tossed with olive oil and lemon, or as a component of a chopped salad. Serve it as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish, or dress it up with chopped vegetables and herbs from the garden and sprinkle with feta for a vegetarian option. 

Pearl Couscous Salad

This recipe combines pearl couscous grains with my new favorite ingredient: fresh garbanzo beans. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 red jalapeno or fresno chile pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh garbanzo beans (or frozen, defrosted)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped Italian Parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro sprigs

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and couscous in a deep skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat the couscous. Cook, stirring, until couscous is lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer couscous to a large bowl, fluffing with a fork. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and pepper. Toss to combine, then set aside to cool slightly. When couscous is lukewarm or room temperature, add the remaining ingredients except for the fresh herbs. If the grains are a little sticky, then add another tablespoon of olive oil. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if desired. (Couscous may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance to this point. Cover and refrigerate). Before serving, add the fresh herbs and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Farrotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Golden Beets from TasteFood
Whole Wheat Couscous with Cherries and Arugula from the Kitchn
Israeli Couscous Summer Pilaf from FatFree Vegan
Greek Couscous Salad from TasteFood
Quinoa Tabbouleh from TasteFood

11 thoughts on “Pearl Couscous Salad

    1. I am in the process of reconfiguring the recipes so that they may be printed. Thanks for your patience!


  1. Pearl couscous is newly available to me here in Central Mexico. What a perfect way to use the box I just bought!

  2. A wonderful salad! Very summery. Pearl couscous is so versatile.



  3. I love Israeli couscous and I had kind of forgotten about it. Does that ever happen to you? Thanks for the reminder. I’m pinning that lovely photo…

  4. I like regular cous cous and although I’m into trying a whole variety of different grains, seeds, etc I am yet to try pearl cous cous. The salad sounds like a perfect start!

  5. Oh!! I’ve seen this elsewhere and forgotten about it! I’ve just got to find some of the pearl shaped couscous.. I’m the sort that gets “hooked” on food with certain textures and this is sure to be one that I’d crave! xo Smidge

Comments are closed.