I’ve had a minor fixation with Israeli couscous, the larger, more pearl-like variety of couscous, since my first year of graduate school. A friend of one of my housemates who was working as a live-in nanny-slash-cook for a wealthy family in Bethesda, brought over some leftovers from the family’s dinner and what was this? This smattering of white polka dots through a tangle of greens and vegetables? You call it couscous, too? Why has nobody told me about this before!
Of course, back then I could barely find it anywhere, except occasionally at the Fresh Fields in upper Georgetown where they had those bins which I still miss today when I’m forced to buy half a pound of pecans when I need a half-cup. But even there, Israeli couscous was something of an enigma.
Nowadays I can find it in a lot of stores, but I feel less good about eating it. Couscous, a fact that seems to repeatedly surprise my husband (namely because he hasn’t listened the first four times I told him, I’m just saying) is not a whole grain, in fact, its closer to a pasta than anything else, formed from semolina flour. In practically any dish that you see couscous, a grain such as quinoa, bulgur or barley could be easily replaced for added nutrients and fiber, and while we often do, I just can’t be so earnest every night. I was missing my couscous.
I have only three tried-and-true Israeli couscous dishes, the first, with roasted butternut squash and lemon, and was my standby carry-along to Thanksgiving dinner all those years I was a vegetarian and had no issue repeating the same recipe dozens of times. The second recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey, including morels and asparagus and is a total delight. And the third, well, I confess that the third is store-bought, a salad with dried cranberries, pecans, saffron and green onions from Whole Foods that I have yet to try to make at home.
Yet, it being not butternut squash, asparagus nor cranberry season and my craving for Israeli couscous was unremitting, I was forced to seek out something more weather befitting last night and ding-ding! I believe we have a new winner. Cherry or grape tomatoes are slow-roasted for an hour at a low temperature (ideal for the summer, as it will not offset your a/c’s goodness) with whole cloves of garlic. Tomatoes, when roasted, take on a deeper, more pronounced flavor, far from the artificial pungency of sun dried tomatoes, but more intense than the fresh, fruity variety. The roasted garlic is pureed with a handful of the tomatoes to make a dressing. The couscous is soaked in broth, and then minced thyme, mint and parsley are added in along with black olives. The olives amplify the flavor, without dominating, as do the array of herbs.
With a greens salad or a piece of meat or fish, dinner is most splendidly served and I get to sink my pearly whites into their chewy goodness, seasonally and enthusiastically, once again.
Pearl Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 pints (1 1/2 pounds) grape or cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 lb)
- 3 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for tomatoes
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 1/4 cups (12 ounces or 340 grams) pearl couscous, sometimes sold as Israeli couscous
- 1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Tomatoes and Dressing
Prepare tomatoes: Heat oven to 300°F. Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer on a large baking sheet. Add garlic to pan and drizzle both tomatoes and garlic lightly with oil (about 1 tablespoon). Sprinkle with salt. Roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make couscous: Bring broth to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and stir in couscous, then simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Spread couscous in one layer on a baking sheet or plate and cool 15 minutes.
When tomatoes are done, make dressing: Peel garlic and puree with 1/4 cup oil, water, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Assemble and serve: Transfer cooled couscous to a bowl and stir in olives, roasted tomatoes, herbs, and dressing. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed.
Do ahead: Roasted tomatoes, dressing, and couscous can be made 1 day ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
194 comments on pearl couscous with olives and roasted tomatoes
This is lovely and perfect for the weather. We’ve got our minds on tabouleh tonight! I share your guilt in eating couscous nowadays and try to use barley, cracked wheat, or quinoa. But sometimes, you just have to have the real deal.
Oh my, that looks amazing! Do you find that “acine de pepe” is a suitable substitute for Israeli couscous? Sometimes cookbooks will say it’s fine to use in place of Israeli couscous, but since I’ve never had Israeli coucous, I have no idea. My grandmother always made “pastina soup” with it and because I can’t find Israeli couscous, I just use this instead. In your opinion, does it match up?
You know, I haven’t tried acine de pepe yet, mostly because I find it fairly east to get pearl couscous. But, I bet it would be a great substitute. In fact, if it comes in whole wheat (something I don’t like in pasta but would forgive in couscous), I might even try it sooner.
I have a great curried couscous salad recipe that I’ve used these big guys for. It’s got slivered almonds, currants, grated carrots, red onions, lots of parsley and a sauce of yogurt, olive oil, garlic, s&p, turmeric and curry powder. It’s so good, we served it at our wedding!
Could you share the recipe please? Sounds delicious!
It’s in Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It is delicious.
Deb, do you have any good recipes for peanut butter cookies? Also, something lemony and coconuty that would be appropriate for a birthday? Thanks!
Uh YUM! I’m even willing to put up with the olives. I love couscous and one of my staple dishes while in North Carolina is a dish with couscous, veggies and shrimp. Another recipe for the archives.
Oh, have you ever tried it with wilted spinach and toasted pine nuts with a bit of olive oil? Heaven!
I too am infatuated with israeli couscous, Deb. I still have a hard time finding it here in Philly. Only one speciality market carries it, that I know of and it’s not close to home. But I still make a special trip just to stock up once in awhile. I’ll give the recipe a try very soon.
Sadly, a lot of stores call ptitim or Israel couscous, ‘pearled couscous’ for political reasons only. Ironically there are no ‘made up’ names for other so-called international foods or recipes.
“Ptitim (Hebrew: פתיתים, literally ‘flakes’) is a type of toasted pasta shaped like rice grains, little balls, or multiple other shapes developed in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce. Outside Israel, it is typically marketed as Israeli couscous, Jerusalem couscous, or pearl couscous.”
From TASTE (great read)
The Truth About Israeli Couscous
BY: LEAH KOENIG
Somewhat unrelated… In regard to Israeli cuisine, there are people who do not understand the fact there are tens of thousands of expelled Arab (Mizrahi) Jews who now are Israeli citizens among other Jews from across the world. They have brought their own culinary expertise to what is now an extraordinary melting pot of Israeli cuisine. Unfortunately there are those who abhor and for some, deny the fact anything Israeli is authentic. The ‘Israeli label’ is real, delicious and it thrives. Whatever sits in he ‘craw’ of those opposed to anything Israeli will just have to endure it, For them, continuing to deny, revise and maintain untruths is a full time endeavor.
To deny that “Israeli” food is appropriated Palestinian food is to contribute to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people and their culture and their food.
I love this recipe – being not so much of an olive fan, I omit them, and sometimes swap in cucumber or spinach instead … once I even added chickpeas! It’s all quite delish.
Wow. That looks amazing. I’m going to have to start looking until I find the evasive Israeli couscous. I wonder if the Arab grocery store would have it…
Drat. If only my husband’s “too tomato-y” rule didn’t eliminate this one from the “to try” file.
In other news, vicarious puppy pictures are available for perusing over in my neck of the woods. We brought him home last night and I’m still wrapping my head around it.
People, I warn you, unless you are stronger-willed and less susceptible to whimpering out loud whilst at work at the cuteness of a puppy, be careful before clicking over to RA’s Flickr stream. Because, ack, that baby Westie makes Alex and my leash hand’s ache with emptiness and now we HAVE to go to the puppy store on the way home OR ELSE.
Jessica — Luisa sent me this “haute nutter butter” recipe from Thomas Keller this week (and no, David Lebovitz, it still didn’t convince me to help her pack) but I have yet to get to it. I don’t yet have my Perfect peanut butter cookie recipe, but I do have a lot great inspiration.
OH, MY, I bought some Israeli couscous at the health food store on clearance. It was SO good!!!! I have had a hard time finding recipes to use it in, but this looks great. I will definately try it out.
I love pearl couscous, and that butternut squash/lemon recipe has been one of my staples also! In my experience it’s quite easy to find in most groceries. All the Arabs I know would take issue with the Israeli label, since the couscous has existed much longer. It’s actually comes from a traditional Lebanese ingredient, and it’s called moghrabbiya (the word maghreb means morocco, so it was sort of like the Lebanese mixed-up attempt to copy the Moroccans). The classic Lebanese preparation involved braised pearl onions, chickpeas and cinnamon, and traditionally with chicken, though you can use lamb or omit the meat (see here. Your version looks delicious!
That looks absolutely amazing! I have not had Israeli couscous in years! We used to make it at the catering company I worked for. It just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside! I will definitely be trying this recipe soon!
I share your fixation with the big bubbly couscous–and the sad guilt that I am not eating some health redeeming whole grain (shouldn’t it be a whole grain? It looks so much like one). I only fell for its charms last year–when I would make it just to eat it plain because that texture made me almost giggly.
The first time I had it was topped with ratatouille–which certainly is in season right now. Don’t you think all those good veggies would redeem the use of a little semolina flour?
We used to have a Fresh Fields store near me when I was little, but then Whole Foods bought it and we could no longer afford to regularly shop there anymore. That was nearly a decade ago, back when I believed fruit leathers and granola bars were truly candy (they really are!) and I hadn’t yet been corrupted by my grandmother and bologna.
funny how things work out…i was yearnin’ for some israeli couscous the other day and bought a bunch too! i must say, your roasted tomato addition sounds great!
That looks so tasty. I might go all out and throw in a bit of Israeli sheep’s milk feta because I love that stuff beyond all reason and will put it anywhere I think it could get along. And it looks perfect here. I will have my very own home grown grape tomatoes by next week if the weather holds and this dish looks like a perfect way to welcome them. Thanks!
Oma–I’d love to see your recipe. That sounds wonderful, too!
And that dish looks delish. I would do barley with that in a heartbeat.
This recipe looks similar to one that I make, but I’ve never roasted the tomatoes, I’m going to try it (it’s feel more like I’ve actually cooked something for dinner, and I bet it’s make it better). THANK YOU for the nutter butter reminder (I earmarked that one a while ago and then somehow forgot). Those are my husband’s favorite cookies and he only eats them about twice a year (because I do the shopping, ha). If I could make something at home that would make him just as happy I think he might just drool.
My solution to the whole wheat, not whole wheat question: eat whole grains at breakfast and lunch, don’t worry about it so much at dinner time. My motto: no guilt.
Magpie Ima beat me to it. I was going to suggest tossing in some crumbled feta, because the flavor goes so beautifully with what you already have. I have made a far simpler couscous and cherry tomato salad, but never thought of roasting the tomatoes first, even though I *love* oven-roasted tomatoes. I will definitely be trying this sometime this summer!
This was absolutely perfect. The only thing I didn’t do was let it cool down all the way. I don’t like cold food so it was warm when I served it with a side of grilled eggplant. Hubs approved!
Oh, that sounds AMAZING. I have to find some of this Israeli couscous and get on making this, because I’m drooling looking at these pictures. Seriously, I love you for this recipe without even trying it.
I’m going to work on some new ideas with all this inspiration, but so far my favourite pearl couscous recipe involves tossing it, cold, with lots of chopped cilantro and tomatoes, with a little red onion thrown in too. I dress it with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Simple but fresh and delish with almost anything grilled!
Delicious! I tend to make the same things over and over with Israeli couscous, too, but it’s hard to resist all of those beautiful cherry tomatoes that are at the farmers’ markets now. A mix of red and gold tomatoes would be lovely in this salad. And yes, feta!
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yuuum i’ve never had israeli couscous! It would be interesting to try!
I…wow. Those shots are amazing–the couscous really DOES look like pearls–and I can’t stop drooling over the tomatoes.
Thanks for this one Deb, I’m going to try it this week. I bought some Israeli couscous in a fit of inspiration a few months ago and still haven’t used it. I keep reading complaints about it being gummy and so I’ve been afraid to try it out and be disappointed. Yay!
Beautiful summer salad- would be VERY well received at a skybar BBQ. I’m also extremely jealous of the marco lens! I need to get one.
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or maybe it’s just the proverbial cyber you
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I did a double take when I saw your tomato couscous photo. I made a fresh tomato and grilled corn salad with basil that from a distance or photo looks almost the same (small pale fresh corn kernels). I will confess I miss the ease of couscous now that I know I am gluten intolerant, but do try to sub in quinoa when I have a couscous moment. As far as your love of cherries goes, I love them too and am lucky to be from a cherry farm in Northern Michigan and it is cherry season right now! Great blog!
Oh, I love Israeli couscous. It’s just so hard to find; when I do see it, I end up hoarding it. Now why do they make something so good so hard to find?
As to whoever asked about a peanut butter cookie recipe, I’ve been mesmerized by the easiness of this one — 1 cup peanut buter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. That’s all! Beware because they burn easily. Sprinkling with a touch of cayenne adds a nice touch too.
I’ve not had Israeli couscous, but it sounds worth seeking out. Toni over at Daily Bread Journal introduced me to the idea of having couscous play a supporting role with other ingredients taking the lead. Specifically chickpeas, in her case. A whole new way to think of couscous!
Never seen pearly cous cous either. Thank you for introducing me to them. Now I have to seek them out…
Everything looks absolutely delicious. I’m sitting in bed just drooling over every dish. Bookmarking this right away!
Alexis! good point! Mmmm speaking of which. Does anyone know if it is going to be nice on Sunday?
o my god, everything looks wow, wow
There is a porn site called smitten kitten.
aha aha ahha
could those tomatoes be ANY MORE PERFECT??? How the hell do you score such perfect produce all the time?
I have been searching high and low for Israeli Cous Cous. What surprises me is even Williams Sonoma doesn’t carry it!!!
At my local supermarket, there’s a $23 box of it, is there anywhere I can go where I can buy it for the regular cost of cous cous???
Dear Smitten–I love you too–made this yesterday while my husband finished painting the dining room–I helped–you know, a little (he has a much steadier hand then me–there is no way I can brush in near the baseboard without masking tape–he can–excuse the digression)–but isn’t it a much bigger help to make yummy food? I quoted Virginia Woolfe–about needing good food to do good work. Made several things over the weekend while he painted. Also made the indian trio last weekend–all delicious. I’m cooking my way through your past posts.
As for this recipe–Tabitha–I bought my Israeli couscous at our local Philadelphia “Nuts to You” store for $1.89 for a pound. I’m pretty sure they sell it loose at Whole Foods. And–I did the spread it out while it cools step–but why is that necessary? To stop the cooking time? Or to keep it from sticking? Could you not just run cold water over it and then toss with the last tablespoon of olive oil and the sauce? Love your blog!!!
This is a great recipe! We loved it. I was inspired to make it because of your beautiful pictures. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thank you :)
Mmmmm this is some good stuff. I have to admit that I altered it just a wee bit – no parsley (gasp! – didn’t have any fresh!) so I used basil instead. Which I personally found quite agreeable. I also roasted some heirloom tomatoes to use in the sauce cause they were going to go to waste otherwise. Oh and after a recent meal of Penne Puttanseca, I think I might try adding anchovies to this the next time I make it. Loved it!
OK – this is WAAAY old now, but I had to note that I found a Hearty Grains mix at Trader Joe’s that was primarily Israeli Couscous, but also had yellow lentils, red quinoa, mini garbanzos and some other things thrown in. I just used the whole package for this recipe and the proportions are fine. It alleviated some of the “not eating any whole grains” guilt and the other things weren’t at all distracting (to me!). This is a WONDERFUL dish – and thank you for your blog -I’m not a sweets lover, but I’m working my way through all your savory recipes and I have yet to find one I don’t like.
Wow looks tasty!
I tried my hand at making this recipe today on this blustery cold stark winter day here in Brooklyn. My pantry was beckoning me I needed to make room for more Nutella and other vices so out came the Israeli Couscous and anything else I could grab. I made way to the grocery store, pummeled my way through the people, and got everything I needed to make this recipe work. I did indeed successfully make this and wanted to say thanks for saving my night. My girlfriend and I also made those peanut butter brownies yesterday for a friend birthday and for countless nights to come which indeed were a huge treat! All the best!
It was a tomato themed weekend. In addition to the tomato and green bean salad I had also made this one. I was able to make each part of this recipe the day before and Saturday morning mixed it all together. I have some extra of the dressing that I think will go well with some pasta.
I had dish at a Bar Mitzvah recently that was pretty nice. It was an israeli couscous salad with just a touch of orzo, yellow split peas, quinoa mixed with diced red onion, cucumber, and tomatoes, sliced basil, chopped parsley, s + p probably a sherry vinaigrette of some sort, sounds pretty basic but with the split peas giving it a nice toothsome crunch and the quinoa was a nice surprise to boot. Nice side salad for the chicken roulade they served.
I just made this tonight, except I used orzo. It was really good! Thanks for the great recipe. I really like your site and the things you make look lovely. I also really like Israeli couscous, though it’s hard to find in Minnesota. Giada makes a recipe with it with dried cranberries, almonds, mint, basil that’s great too.
Love Israeli Couscous! Making it today for Father’s Day. BF is like a dad to my dog… LOL. Spoils him rotten.
Happy Father’s Day to all the good daddies out there!
Oh my goodness!
Thanks so much for this amazing recipe…oh, and your wonderful site.
We made this last year and might just have to make it again this year, since we have a cherry tomato plant now. I remember thinking it tasted like fancy Spaghetti-O’s :-)
This was really good, made it last night for a side dish. My favorite part were the roasted grape tomatoes..so delish! Thanks!
This was delicious! Thanks
loved this recipe! made it for the fam after arriving home from college! my dad licked his plate after griping he hates couscous because it’s normally made so blandly by my mom! i made him a believer. i added chopped scallions and cilantro to this recipe. i am also wondering though, like sassy j, why you need to spread it on the baking pan for 15 minutes? never have done this with other couscous recipes… either way, it was fabulous! thank you so much!
Great recipe! I used maghribiyeh instead of israeli couscous since that’s what dh brought home. Wonderful combination of flavors and it’ll be great for packing lunches.
I was dreaming about this couscous and decided to make this recipe. It was sooo yummy and we grilled (yes, in cold janvier but with an indoor griddle grill) with garlic shrimp atop rosemary springs… abso fabu. Cannot wait to have this in the summer with fresh grilled zucchini!
Delicious! Even my husband (who doesn’t like couscous) really enjoyed this. I added a bit of feta as some of the comments suggested and it was a really nice touch!
Thanks for sharing this recipe. It was amazing!!! I’ve never had Israeli couscous before but had to try it as it looked yummy in your pics. The couscous was so soft … really loved the texture. I also loved the taste of the tomatoes. I love tomatoes but roasting really does heighten the flavour! Now I need to try & get some more couscous locally.
You can order Israeli couscous through Amazon.com. Seriously!! :)
To Bernadette, You can find “Israeli” Couscous at any Palestinian/Lebanese oriented Arabic markets under the name “maftoul” or ma. I use a really great organic, fair trade whole wheat version of the couscous under the name Sun-dried “Palestinian” Couscous (who knows what is right! ha), from a local Arab grocery here.
This looks delicious. I have made the Israeli couscous salad with asparagus, cucumber and black olives from the June 2006 issue of Bon Appetit several times and I highly recommend it. It has also has scallions, mint and a lemon vinaigrette and is so fresh and satisfying.
Looks like a party in a bowl, Deb. Very tasty; thank you. Will go beautifully with the soft shell crabs I’m springing for in 2 weeks for my next dinner party.
I made this on Saturday for a farewell party and finished the remains for lunch this morning. So good! Thanks Deb.
Made it for my dinner party last night. People loved it. definitely a staple here from now on; thanks again, Deb! Talk timely: As I write – sitting almost on top of my A.C….it’s so darn hot here today!… I’m listening to Splendid Table on NYPublic Radio. A food writer from the NY Times is talking about summer salads using grains. She talked about…toasting grains in a frying pan. Have you tried it?
Dang – THAT was good! Thanks.
OMG. Made this yesterday for a potluck. It looked just like the picture–glossy and delicious. And the taste? It took all my strength not to empty the bowl into my mouth before we walked out the door. Nothing but compliments that evening. Would not change a thing about this recipe–thank you!
This post makes me laugh! I’m having a similar pang to indulge in something non whole grain, and I like the twist of the roasted tomatoes. I too remember discovering israeli couscous…though I remember buying the overpriced-imported-from-israel-1 cup bags, from sutton place at Foxhall…Certainly miss those fresh fields bulk bins too!
I know this post is a billion years old, but it’s become one of my favorite recipes, and I wanted to share a slight change I make – saute a bunch of chard leaves and stems, and throw a couple handfuls of the leaves into the dressing. The rest can go with the couscous – it is an excellent way to hide dark leafy greens from myself.
Just to clear out the air, unlike most of the foods Israel regards to as her own and actually came from neighbours or with the Jews from thier home country, the Israeli couscous actually IS Israeli.
It was invented in the 50’s, which was a depression like era, when the government asked Osem (A brand) to create a chepaer alternative to rice, whcih was expensive but popular with Jews from the Mahgreb area.
I use Israeli couscous in Chicken Noodle Soup. It is like micro-mini dumplings. Only about 1/2 c in a whole pot of soup if you are limiting grains. YUM!
SO glad I made this recipe. As one person already said, I had trouble not eating the whole bowl.
Unfortunately, I had to stray a little because I didn’t have all the ingredients. I used fresh basil (from the garden) for mint, was out of garlic (wth?!) so used shallots (some roasted with the tomatoes, some sauteed), out of lemons so used lime juice. Still turned out great. Next time I will be sure to have all of the original ingredients on hand.
Thank you for the great post.
I served this to a bunch of hungry guys who were working on a construction project at my house. There is nothing left
This ia going to be one of those recipes that l will make again and again and again
I don’t know if there are Fresh & Easy stores in all areas, but they always have the pearly white couscous, along with many “hard to find” grains.
this recipe is lovely! I’ve made it several times for potlucks, all to rave reviews. I frequently add in additional veggies (such as chick peas, corn, asparagus…) and roast them along with the tomatoes. Such a tasty dinner on a warm summer evening. The dressing is absolutely delicious! Thanks again for a great recipe Deb!
For the past 2 or 3 years Trader Joe’s has carries a straight Israeli Couscous, 6oz box; I finally got around to making this now that my garden tomatoes are ripe… so I just winged it with whatever garden stuff was ripe. Had the mint, the tomatoes and other stuff; had a nice couple of kale leaves so I chiffonade’d them in place of the parsley. It’s so much more flavorful with your own fresh veggies vs. those flavorless store veggies.
I made this last night for one of the side dishes at a BBQ and everyone loved it…so flavorful. Thanks for sharing this superb recipe!
My bf is an Israeli advocate and I’m making this for a group of people tonight!! This is my third time preparing this dish. Love it!!
This is a wonderful, wonderful salad.
I saw this a while back, kept buying loads of tomatoes, and then finding myself using them in green salads and soups instead.
Finally, thank god for Columbus Day holiday, because I managed to find the time tonight to try this out and it so worth it.
I used regular couscous instead of these Israeli ones, and it is still delicious. Also, just used parsley, as I did not have fresh thyme or mint.
I definitely recommend making this one. I want to buy the last of the remaining tomatoes this fall, before it becomes too late to make one final batch.
Funny, I live on a tiny island in the pacific ad we have it here:) love it with the spinach and pinenuts, try adding some porcini mushrooms, a touch of truffle oil and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan, my personal fave…would be great with the roasted tomatoes in there too.
I really enjoy your site. I too love Israeli cous cous..here’s a tip..before you add the broth, toast the cous cous in the pot/pan until it get golden brown, then add stock and cook.It adds a whole new dimension of flavor..nutty and toasty.
This is my go-to party dish, everyone loooooves it. Thanks Deb! Do you think one can make it with orzo pasta and that it would still be as yummy?
I really enjoyed this. I used combo of parsley and basil, and omitted mint & thyme, and thought it was fine. Next time I will chop up roasted garlic before pureeing, as it was a little difficult getting it to puree into the dressing. Also added a little red wine vinegar to the dressing.
this was sooo good! I made some shish kabobs and lentils and this was a perfect addition. I never had couscous before, thanks for keeping it simple and delicious!
I made this last night to go with grilled salmon and everyone LOVED it. Thank you so much.
Deb, I must be doing something wrong! I have made it the way you suggested and the dressing seems too much for the couscous….its almost like a gravy. I wonder if the tomatoes I use have too much water in them. Have you found any time that the dressing is too much for the couscous and how do I adjust it?
Vaish — I remember that it does make a bit but your tomatoes could also effect it. You probably would want to use less next time and add more as needed.
Thanks Deb. I reduced it a bit and then realised that the couscous absorbs the moisture, so I may use the whole thing next time. I tried it with Quinoa, but that did not absorb it completely so I would probably half it then. With the Quinoa I added roasted pepper and red onion. It was amazingly tasty both times! The only change I would make is scale it down in quantity since I abhor wasting and have been eating it for the last three days! Your website has really inspired me to cook again! Thanks so much!
i’d made this a few years ago and it was fab; this time around i adapted it to be a vegan-protein-powerhouse by adding tiny black lentils and chickpeas (though in a quantity to insure the couscous remained the focus)…the roasted tomato flavor does awesome things for both additions. i rarely tweak recipes (like people who leave reviews and sub 7 of 10 ingredients then say they hate it…whatthe?!), especially those so well put together such as SK, but the legumes had an unexpectedly awesome effect.
I have yet to try Israeli Couscous but found it very easy to find in the grocery store. It seems you can make it with anything that you would with any pasta dish. Hot or cold. I’m looking forward to making it with English cucumbers, red peppers, green onion and garlic all cut up small with a lemon vinaigrette topped with parsley. I think I will bring it to my neighbors crab feast…
Just finished making this exactly as written, it is very yummy! I will definitely experiment with the flavors and ingredients keeping the basic recipe the same. Thanks for posting and sharing.
I pressed the “surprise me” tab and I got this, of all recipes!
Here in Israel we call them “ptitim” (the P is not silent, it sounds more like peh-titim). The name literally means “flakes”, and they come in a variety of colors and shapes. At home I usually mix up the different shapes, the kids like it to look like a jumbly mess. I cook it like rice, with lots of sautéed onions, and serve it as a starchy side dish.
Why did you tag this as vegetarian if there’s chicken broth in it…? Just curious! Can I substitute with vegetable broth?
I’ve never made couscous before so this was an experiment for our household. I followed the recipe to a T minus the olives. I mixed it all up just a minute ago and quickly popped a spoonful into my mouth because I could not wait another moment as it smelled heavenly. Well, the taste is just as heavenly as the smell! Delicious!!!
Brandy, again… We’re making this again today and when I pulled up the recipe, my comment appeared. My daughter is upset that I didn’t let you know that she LOVES it too! :)
i would really like to make this particular recipe “Pearl Couscous With Olives & Roasted Tomatoes” but it is for 6 servings…i only need 2 servings…why don’t you create a recipe changer so that someone could put in the amount of servings they want & it will change the ingredient amounts… i do go to several sites that have that particular option…so there is not a “guessing game” on how much ingredients to use.
robin — This site doesn’t have the mechanism to do something like that because it’s written, staffed and run by a single person — me! (Unlike MyRecipes or AllRecipes which owned by media giants like Time Warner are staffed by 50 people and have a team of developers to build things for them). But I agree, it would be a nice feature. In the meanwhile, you can just halve everything. You’ll have a bit of extra but it makes great leftovers.
Tried this tonight, with plum tomatoes since that’s all I could find. I’m sure it would be much better with the grape or cherry, but still was very, very good.
I added a jalapeno to the oven while the garlic & tomato roasted and blended it with the sauce. It added a very mild spice to the dish that we enjoyed.
I too love israeli couscous and I never realized it wasn’t a whole grain until reading this article! Very sad news, but the delicious-ness of this dish is helping me to get over it.
I made this for a dinner party and it went down incredibly well! I left the olives in bigger pieces so my olive-phobic friends could pick them out, but otherwise followed to the letter what you did. Served with a halloumi and spinach salad. It was absolutely delicious, thank you for posting!
I’ve made this dish a few times and it is wonderful! If you make this dish ahead of time, do you normally serve it at room temperature then? What if you wanted to serve warmed?
This has become my go to Israeli couscous recipe. It’s super yum with a bit of preserved lemon. I also dress it when I’m ready to serve it because I find the couscous soaks up the dressing absorbing most of the punch from the roasted tomatoes.
Wow. Just stumbled upon this in a search and expected an OK dish. Boy, was I wrong. This is delicious. Best Israeli couscous I’ve ever had. By a lot. Thanks!
I have yet to be disappointed by a recipe from this blog! This was absolutely delicious! I did blend the herbs directly into the dressing for an even flavor.
I just made this exactly like the recipe stated. It was absolutely wonderful! My husband and I loved it and all it’s flavors. We will definitely be making it again! Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi All — if you can’t find Israeli couscous in your local grocery store, you can buy it from Amazon in five-pound bags. They carry at least a couple of brands. This recipe looks great — can’t wait to try it.
I found a good recipe for the Whole Foods version of couscous with dried cranberries, pecans, etc. Close to the original, to which I’m addicted. Happy to share.
I realize that this recipe is several years old, so by now you may have discovered more Israeli couscous recipes, but I wanted to bring your attention to one of my favorites that is a regular for us: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/mediterranean-salad-recipe.html. My husband (carnivore) mixes in grilled or oven roasted chicken, and I (vegetarian) mix in tofu that has been marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. A side of roasted sweet potatoes is also delicious, and can also be mixed in once everything is done cooking. Your recipe looks really good too – I’ll have to give it a try soon! Also for those looking for Israeli couscous, check the Kosher aisle in the grocery store. Trader Joe’s often has it too.
This is a favorite! My 8yo requests it regularly. Some here don’t like olives so I left them out and I made it a rif on caprese salad instead. So replace the parsley, mint and thyme with basil. And add a whole lot of fresh mozzarella. YUM!!!
Made this yesterday for a potluck. It was terrific! I was so disappointed that there were no leftovers! I’ll of course make it again. The dressing was an inspiration — it used some of the roasted tomatoes. Easy, and so good, especially since I had loads of cherry tomatoes from my garden. Thanks, SK!
So just read this post on Instagram, and saw it was 2007. You must know by now, but just in case, not… Whole wheat Israeli Cous Cous is now widely available. I can get it at Fairway and West side Market, and have seen it in other places too. HELLO 10 years later!
Yes, many places. And the couscous I bought from Bob’s Red Mill this week wasn’t even semolina. Still, the recipe is a keeper. We had the leftovers tonight.
Question: If there’s an aversion to olives, any recommended substitutes?
Capers. I do think the briny bite of something is needed here.
We’ve done it without olives as a rif on caprese. With basil and fresh mozzarella. Yum!
I added some garden peas and tuna packed in olive oil and it was a meal! Yum!
Would this be acceptable served cold, a la pasta salad? I have to bring a dish for a party this weekend and I would love to bring this as a hardy, coincidentally vegan salad. Would you tweak it at all for that purpose?
Absolutely. We do not rewarm leftovers before eating them.
does your cous cous come two toned? whenever i’ve seen it in the stores, its just all one color
I couldn’t resist the very retro-looking “tricolore” couscous from Bob’s Red Mill. So 1980s, right? (Except it’s made with tomato and spinach powder and no other garbage, phew.)
This looks so delicious but I’m not a parsley lover-what could I sub instead? Basil?
Long time lurker, first time commenter. I’ve made many SK recipes over the years, but felt compelled to comment today. This was absolutely delicious! The dressing looked a bit watery after I blended it, but it was exactly the right amount and consistency after I mixed it with the cous cous. Tomato dressing is going on everything from now on! Thanks for a deliciously quick and easy weeknight meal:)
I prepared all the ingredients ahead of time to take to a bbq, but forgot the pre-cooked couscous. Found a pkg of rice pilaf in my hosts’ pantry as a substitute.
The dressing was great on the just warm rice with the roasted tomatoes. herbs and olives. Outstanding!
Made this for dinner tonight with grilled shrimp, in order to use the mint and parsley growing in my little patio garden. Delicious! I served the olives on the side to accommodate a picky eater. Big hit.
I made this this past weekend and it was delicious. Thank you for introducing me to roasted tomatoes. I love fresh, hate sundried….these are perfect.
I’ve been making this recipe for years and enjoyed it. It comes from GOURMET MAGAZINE from the September 2002 issue. Delicious!!
As much as I love Israeli couscous, I didn’t have any on hand today. Instead I used barley and it came out very well. The dressing alone is phenomenal.
Am I the only one that found this way too salty? I even halved the salt in the dressing and still found it so salty, with the olives and pearl couscous cooked in veg stock.
Did you just use the 1 teaspoon? Was your stock salted too?
Wow! Might be in my top 5 SK recipes! Tasted much greater than the sum of its parts. Subbed cilantro for parsley because that’s what I had on hand, and omitted the thyme because I was wary of the cilantro/ thyme combo. Boyfriend destroyed 3 servings and I had to stop him from going for a fourth so we’d have lunch tomorrow! Will be making this all summer.
This looks delicious. If anyone’s interested, here’s one of my favorite fall Israeli couscous dishes…so tasty: http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2011/02/cauliflower-couscous.html
I am going to make this with Farro…fewer carbs and more flavor.
WHY??? Can’t I print a recipe from your websight that i found on Instagram? In particular , Roasted Couscous with Olives and tomatoes. I looked in your recipe file on your website and couldn’t find it there either.
I have signed up for your newsletter and receive emails from you.
There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.
You weren’t kidding that this is a hit with toddlers- I barely got any on the actual dinner table, my two year old was nibbling so much! (it was a huge hit with the grown-ups, too :) Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
Made this last night with sundried tomatoes, basil and some tiny fresh mozzarella and it was delicious. Can’t wait to make the real thing once the local tomates are ripe!
This recipe is so delicious and easy to make! I served it as a side with grilled salmon (drizzled with your pea pesto) and green beans. Yum! Thanks Deb :)
Thanks for streamlining the recipe, Deb! I hadn’t made it before, but my husband and I were both doing chores in the kitchen (me cooking, him cleaning), and I think I said “this recipe is so well designed!” several times! Loved it!
I made this last night for a dinner party with farro since I was trying to clean out the pantry a bit, rather than buy something just for a recipe. It was GREAT! Served it with salmon and grilled broccoli rabe. Yum.
This sounds delicious! My husband is allergic to mint, however. Is there a good substitute?
I think you can skip it here, or use another herb you like.
Any fresh herbs you like! I used Italian parsley and chopped green onions. Oh, and i’ve Also made it with cooked rice rather than Israeli couscous. In a pinch, Near East Rice Pilaf!
Yummy! The family loved it!
I made it with the couscous and it was delicious, but I think fregola might be even better. Next time! (there will definitely be a next time)
Made this last night despite being a bit off-season, since we just returned from a Jamaica vacay and all seem to be craving warm-weather flavors. What slow-roasting does to the tomatoes is absolute magic…I couldn’t stop “tasting” while I prepped the rest of our meal (breadcrumb-coated snapper with lemon-pepper seasoning). Even my suspicious-of-non-homogenous-foods 5-year-old enjoyed it, and bonus—a few tablespoons of plain Israeli couscous were a perfect mix-in for the baby’s veggie purée. Thanks Deb!
This is one of the best things I’ve made in ages! Yum yum yum. Thank you!
I made this as presented and it was fabulous! Will definitely make it again. I used the tri-color couscous that gave it a lovely addition of color along with the tomatoes!
I made this recipe for a large crowd (18 people) this weekend and it was a huge hit and worked very well! I tripled the recipe (have some leftover), roasted the tomatoes/garlic 3 days early and cooked the couscous 2 days early. They both kept well in the fridge and it was very easy to assemble day-of that way. I’m keeping this in my back pocket for future dinners for sure!
I rarely comment online, but I felt the need to sing the praises of this salad. I made it 3 times in a month because I could not get enough of it, and forwarded the recipe to everyone I know. It’s a great way to use up those grape tomatoes on your counter that are looking a little shady. Eat it cold, room temp, or warm. It’s all good. REALLY GOOD.
Ina Garden has a great Isreali couscous salad with roasted peppers, olives and tuna. Check it out!
Tell me more about the morels dish? Where do I find that?!
Follow the link on Madhur Jaffrey’s name — the recipe is online.
I almost never comment on recipes, but this was soo delicious. I added chickpeas and feta that I had to use up so it became more of a main dish than side. Definitely going to make many many more times!
Making this for a picnic this evening. Do you serve it warm? Room temp? Cold? All of the above?
Room temperature is fine.
Just made this. Will have to try and restrain myself until guests arrive. Yum!
This is now a total favorite of my 11 year old, who heretofore did not eat tomatoes (as she says, she likes tomatoes in every form except…tomatoes). I first made it with tomatoes from my garden so I thought that might be taking it to the next level, but it was equally fabulous with store-bought grape tomatoes. It makes a great lunch the next day, too! Enjoyed it tonight with grilled halibut and Parmesan garlic toasts. Thank you Deb!
OMG, Deb this is a 6 star dish. We had this last night and I can’t wait to make it again. It’s truly addicting. We’re having dinner guests this week-end and I just made a change on what to serve with grilled lamb chops…it’s this delicious couscous. This is going to become a regular in our kitchen.
I love this recipe and have made it numerous times. It’s great to take to a picnic or serve at a summer dinner. Since it’s difficult to find Israeli couscous near me, I order it from Amazon. It’s a far better price than a specialty store.
Please Deb, the star ingredient of your delectable dish is called Ptitim…NOT ‘sometimes’ called Israeli couscous, it is…Israeli couscous, a term by American cooks. Believe me, I perfectly understand that some do not like the term ‘Israeli’ ‘anything ‘ but Pearled anything it is not. However, for anyone wanting to know, here is the story of Israeli couscous born in that state in the 1950’s:
“The Truth About Israeli Couscous”
By Leah Koenig (author of a magnificent new book: THE JEWISH COOKBOOK 2019)
This is a regular favorite at our house. Made it with the same weight of dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes, cut into eighths (pints of cherry tomatoes were strangely expensive) – they didn’t hold their shape as well of course, but it was still delicious!
I have made this multiple times and I use basil and parsley for my herbs instead of thyme and mint. We also either sprinkle feta or parmesan when served. (Some of us aren’t fond of feta. ) We love it!
I would love to make this couscous dish but I cannot have the seeds of the tomato. I dont suppose I could use dried tomatoes..or can I?
Are dried tomatoes seeded? Also, I wonder if you could use slightly larger tomatoes and remove the seeds before roasting them a bit, would probably go faster.
This was delicious! I have shared with so many friends because it’s so amazing! Perfect for meatless Monday :) Thank you for sharing!!
So I love the flavor but mine came out looking a lot more “tomato sauce” looking in color and the roasted tomatoes nearly disintegrated :(
Should I just cook the tomatoes for a shorter amount of time?
Also, for my olive-hating husband I substituted preserved lemon and it’s quite nice!
Were they large or small?
The perfect summer couscous. Our family doesn’t like olives and while I could see how a little salty brine-iness would punch it up, it was perfectly garlicky, lemony, roasted tomatoey. Planning on making this throughout the summer along with grilled corn and chicken.
I’ve made this several times already this summer and it’s such a hit. How long do you think this dressing lasts in the fridge? We had some extra that we used to make a roasted asparagus salad and it was killer.
It’s so hot out I can’t bear to use the oven even knowing how good this is! Would a quick hot pan fry do for little tomatoes?
This is for all who say they have a hard time finding P’titim, aka Israeli couscous. If you live anywhere near a Jewish community, just find the nearest kosher butcher, products store. They are sure to have P’titim on their shelves.
Such a fantastic recipe! Simple, summer meal that pleased everyone. We served with roasted seitan and it was a hit!
This is a seasonal favorite. I’ve made it countless times over the years. Made it two nights ago, and it was terrific as always. I didn’t have enough cherry tomatoes, so i cut up regular tomatoes — still excellent.
Awesome! Added some roasted red peppers and used oregano and basil as the herbs. I also added some leftover feta, about 3oz I think. I will take leftovers for my lunch this week as there are only two of us, no hungry toddlers!
I made this tonight for my own 2nd Pandemic Mother’s Day because it sounded so good. It was a big hit! I didn’t have chicken broth so I just used heavily salted water for the couscous. I had some prosciutto in the fridge that needed to be used, so I fried it up crispy and tore it into pieces to put on top. So yummy. Thanks Deb!
It is not Pearled couscous, it is Israeli couscous. Period. It’s called פתיתים, ptitim. What is wrong with calling that by it’s correct name? Asians and other cultures do not dance around the the correct name of ingredients. Ever.
(Pardon me for inadvertently originally placing this on a commenters reply by accident)
Actually, many manufacturers label their product as pearled couscous. Check your attitude, Susan.
This is a great combination of flavor and texture – every recipe you suggest is my new favorite! Thank you for your love of food Deb! It’s appreciated!
I seem to have forgotten how to save your recipes to my file. Please guide me. Thanks!
Ooh! I love pearl couscous! Can’t wait to try this! If you’re looking for another recipe to make with pearl couscous highly recommend this one by epicurious: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/corn-and-fregola-with-grilled-halloumi-cheese-56389730
We made it the other day, I added some baby spinach for extra green and did dill instead of basil and mint. It was sooooo tasty!
This is great! I love slow roasted tomatoes and this is a nice use for them. The store had no pearl couscous, so I used orzo, which worked well. I threw in a little feta at the end too.
This is so amazingly good!
I commented previously to say I enjoyed it, but now an additional note to say that it’s even better warmed up. We served it room temp for guests, but I ate some during the week warmed up as leftovers, and prefer it even more that way.
A summer staple in our house! Took it on a beach trip with friends and everyone asked for the recipe.
We somehow had double-purchased pearl couscous.
AND we’re swimming in tomatoes over here.
This was the perfect late summer dish – we’re having it for lunch today, but I think it’d be great as a side for any grilled main.
I didn’t use my roasted cherries in the dressing but added some larger ones I had roasted this week to put up for winter.
Love love love.
OMG this was sooo good
loved the texture of the pear couscous.
I actually used coriander instead of parsley and added green onions too.
the leftovers were great too. the looked dry but when you ate it , it was perfect.
I am going to make this again for sure!!
I just made this gorgeous savory dish as a side for your magically easy and fun spanakopita. Taking to friends who just had newborn twin daughters. Colorful, healthy and delicious meal!
Have you tried this with farro?