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).
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. 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
PS New York travel update coming soon! Suffice to say, we’ve been having a blast. Did I mention why I’m here? Well, it’s because my brother, sister and I gave mum a trip to NYC for mother’s day this year and I was nominated to accompany her. I know, I know. We spoil her rotten. We remind her regularly how lucky she is to have us as her kids!
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.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove (, minced)
- ½ small onion (, finely chopped)
- ¼ cup dill (, finely chopped)
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove (, minced)
- 1 tsp sugar (, optional)