Pearl couscous, or Israeli couscous, is a nutty pasta made of toasted semolina flour “pearls”. A wonderful replacement for rice or quinoa, this hearty ingredient is a new-found favorite of mine. And my new favorite recipe for it brings in the bright, fresh flavors of cucumber, dill, and lemon with salty tidbits of feta cheese and sundried tomatoes. It’s a perfect side dish for dinner or a wonderful vegetarian entrée. Make some up for a family meal, or pack it in a cooler for a picnic or camping trip. This recipe makes about four one-cup servings, but it is easily multiplied. You just need to know the ratio of couscous to water, which is 1:1 ½ . Therefore, for every cup of couscous, you need 1 ½ cup of water or broth. One cup of dry couscous makes about 2 ½ cups cooked.
Here’s what you’ll need:
5 T. olive oil, divided
1 c. pearl (also sold as Israeli or Middle-eastern) couscous
1 ½ c. water or chicken broth
1 5-6 inch cucumber (I use English or Persian varieties for their thinner skin and fewer seeds), quartered lengthwise and thinly-sliced
½ c. fresh dill, minced
½ c. fresh parsley, minced
½ c. feta cheese
¼ c. sundried tomatoes (dry or oil-packed), diced
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
First, heat 2 T. of the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the dry couscous, stir to coat, and toast it until it is a golden brown and nutty aroma. Be sure to stir frequently to avoid burning the pearls.
Next, add your water or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes and test for doneness. If it’s still a little too al dente for your liking, add a few splashed of liquid and cook, covered, for another 2 minutes. Once it’s done, remove it from the heat, leaving the lid on.
While the couscous is still hot, stir in the fresh herbs and the remaining olive oil and re-cover the pot.
While the herbs are marrying with the couscous, prepare your cucumber and sundried tomatoes. Add them to the pot along with the lemon juice and mix well.
Finally, add the feta, salt, and pepper to your liking. Serve warm or chilled, and enjoy.