Israeli couscous is chewy and satisfying. Here are the best easy, delicious Israeli couscous recipes that’ll have everyone asking for seconds.
What is special about Israeli couscous? A lesser-known ingredient in North American kitchens, this tiny pasta shape is made of semolina flour, then toasted, creating a deliciously nutty flavor. Also known as pearl couscous, is the larger, chewier version of what we call ‘regular’ couscous.
Perfect served cold and tossed with fresh herbs and a bright vinaigrette, or hot – warmed and served with some good quality cheese and roasted vegetables – there are countless ways to enjoy Israeli couscous.
What is Israeli Couscous?
Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, sprung from Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce in the country. During this time, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was trying to find a way to feed the increasing population.
These balls, which are larger than regular couscous, get toasted during their manufacturing process and thus have a lovely nutty flavor.
To cook Israeli couscous, you boil it like pasta in water seasoned with Kosher salt until al dente. It can be eaten hot or cold and has a short prep time, making it an easy dish to whip up. Here’s a basic couscous salad dressing recipe you must try.
What is the Difference Between Regular and Israeli Couscous?
Are you trying to figure out whether or not you can substitute regular couscous for Israeli couscous? If so, here are a few notes on each ingredient. Including, how they differ.
Regular couscous is made with semolina flour which is a type of wheat flour. This ingredient and dish originated in North Africa.
In terms of cooking, these little grains get steamed in different broths and liquids that have been brought to a simmer. (For regular couscous, read How to Cook Perfect Fluffy Couscous).
They are then given a stir with a fork until it resembles loose fluff. You just need to lightly lift and separate the granules so that they don’t clump together.
Regular couscous is made really flavorful when cooked with either vegetable broth or a rich chicken broth.
How Long Do You Cook Israeli Couscous for?
Ten minutes in a large saucepan of salted boiling water is the rough cook time for Israeli couscous. It’s slightly different from regular pasta in that it gets cooked until the water is absorbed. It should retain a texture with a nice bite.
As this ingredient was created as a rice alternative, the cooking process is similar.
How Do You Store Israeli Couscous?
Cooked Israeli couscous can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Allow the pasta to cool completely to room temperature before packing it up in its container. This will avoid it from steaming in the container and turning to mush.
Cooked Israeli couscous should last about 4 days in the refrigerator. This ingredient can be frozen for up to 2 months. Make sure it has completely cooled before freezing.
Is Israeli Couscous the Same as Pasta?
Israeli couscous, or giant couscous, is a type of pasta that is made from semolina flour and water.
So, yes, Israeli couscous is the same as pasta, as it is a pasta variant.
Here are 10 delicious and easy Israeli couscous recipes that will have you adding couscous to your grocery list this week –
1. One Pot Cacio e Pepe Israeli Couscous
The classic Italian comfort food, which translates to cheese and pepper pasta, ditches its typical long, thin noodle for pearl couscous. Creamy, cheesy, and served warm.
This is such a simple, unctuous dish and is a fantastic mid-week whip-up.
One Pot Cacio e Pepe Israeli Couscous by Defined Dish
2. Roasted Cherry Tomato and Basil Couscous Salad
A drizzle of olive oil and a quick roast in the oven brings a rich and full flavor to the tomatoes in this simple, fresh salad recipe.
Roasted Cherry Tomato and Basil Couscous Salad by Love and Lemons
3. Beet and Citrus Salad with Israeli Couscous
Earthy beets are given a bright, citrusy punch and rounded out with chewy Israeli couscous in this salad, perfect for winter.
Beet and Citrus Salad with Israeli Couscous by Foodess
4. Roasted Broccoli and Pesto with Chickpeas and Couscous
Is there anything that pesto doesn’t pair well with? Couscous and chickpeas come together in a complimentary, chewy combo in this cheesy, broccoli-studded Israeli couscous creation.
Roasted Broccoli and Pesto with Chickpeas and Couscous by Double Thyme
5. Herby Eggplant Israeli Couscous
Fresh mint and parsley are torn and tossed with lemon juice to add a bright flavor to the caramelized onion, garlic, and eggplant in this could-totally-be-comfort-food couscous.
Herby Eggplant Israeli Couscous by Truffles and Trends
6. Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower, Pistachios and Dates
For an uber-foodie twist, add pistachios, golden raisins and chopped dates to Israeli couscous in this crunchy-sweet-fresh dish.
Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower, Pistachios and Dates by The Full Helping
7. Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Feta, Cranberries and Mint
If there’s a veggie-packed Israeli couscous salad on this list, it’s this one. Super simple and tossed together with ingredients I’m sure you already have in your kitchen. Give this one a go!
Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta, Cranberries and Mint by Choosing Chia
8. Lemony Arugula Salad with Couscous, Feta and Cucumber
What do you get when you mix the peppery bite of rocket with the tang of feta cheese and zing of lemon? This fresh, must-try salad.
Lemony Arugula Salad with Couscous, Feta and Cucumber by Inspired Taste
9. Israeli Couscous Salad with Peas, Mint and Feta
Peas and mint are a classic combo that definitely isn’t going away any time soon. This makes a lovely, fresh side dish. It looks really pretty too.
Israeli Couscous Salad with Peas, Mint and Feta by Culinary Hill
10. Cucumber, Mango & Avocado Israeli Couscous Salad with Mint-Chile Vinaigrette
There’s something about the fresh pop of mango that I seriously can’t resist. Add a kick to it with this homemade mint-chile couscous salad dressing and you’ve got a delicious situation that will impress at any summer gathering.
9+ Genius Israeli Couscous Recipes You Seriously Have to Try + a Basic Recipe
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- Rinse the Israeli couscous under cold running water and drain well.
- Heat the olive oil or butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the Israeli couscous to the saucepan and stir it constantly for about 2-3 minutes or until the couscous turns golden brown.
- Pour in the water and salt and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the couscous is tender and has absorbed all the liquid.
- Remove the pot from heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the couscous.
Note: You can also add other seasonings, such as garlic, onion, or herbs, to the couscous while cooking to add more flavor.
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Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD