A simple pearl couscous AKA Israeli couscous and chickpea pilaf gets its special flavor from roasted Brussels sprouts — or, you can air fry them, if you prefer. It’s light and lemony, embellished with pumpkin seeds and fresh mint.
Easy to make and requiring just a few ingredients, this can be a main dish in larger quantities or a side dish in moderate portions.
What to serve with couscous and chickpea pilaf
- Pair with a substantial salad. Vegan Buffalo “Chicken” Salad or Cool Cucumber and Kale Salad with Hot and Spicy Tofu are good choices.
- Serve with an easy plant protein dish like Lemon Pepper Tofu Steaks.
- Though this dish doesn’t particularly have a Middle Eastern character, it goes well with hummus and/or and/or baba ghanouj served with fresh pita. You can purchase these dips readymade or DIY with Homemade Hummus, 12 Easy & Delicious Ways and Baba Ghanouj. A platter of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers rounds out this tasty meal.
What is Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous)?
Israeli couscous might look like a grain, but it’s actually a tiny pasta. It’s round and quick-cooking, with a pleasant mouth feel.
Look for it in bulk in natural foods stores, or in the Middle Eastern section of the international aisle in well stocked supermarkets. Sometimes (actually quite often) it’s labeled “pearl couscous.”
Sometimes called pearl couscous, Israeli couscous has an interesting origin story. In Hebrew, this product is transliterated as ptitim, which means “flakes.” Rice was scarce in Israel in the 1950s, so this product was developed as a substitute.
How to cook Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous)
Pearl couscous is cooked like any other kind of pasta, in plenty of simmering water until al dente.
Don’t make the mistake of cooking it like a grain — that is, with just double the amount of water, and cooking until the water was absorbed. It’s not enough, and if you then add more water at that point, you’ll wind up with mush.
Instead, use a higher ratio of water to couscous — 3 to 1 or more; it doesn’t really need to be exact. Simmer gently and steadily until al dente. See package recommendations as to time, as they may vary, though it’s in the vicinity of 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well when done in a sieve or mesh colander.
If you’re going to use the pearl couscous in a cold dish, rinse with cool running water in the sieve or mesh colander and drain well again.
You may also like:
- Israeli Salad with Pearl Couscous
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Cucumber and Fresh Herbs
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Apricots, Tomatoes, and Cucumber
- 8 to 10 ounces Brussels sprouts, preferably on the smaller side
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup raw pearl couscous (Israeli couscous)
- 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Leaves from several sprigs of fresh mint (or swap in coarsely chopped fresh parsley, as desired)
- 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Place in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil.
- To roast Brussels sprouts in the oven: Preheat the oven to 425º F. Arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until touched with brown spots here and there and tender-crisp in texture. To roast in the air fryer: Roast at the highest temperature for about 8 minutes, tossing halfway through, or according to your machine’s instructions — each one is different.
- Meanwhile, cook the pearl couscous according to package directions until al dente, then drain into a mesh strainer. Transfer to a serving container.
- Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, and mint. Toss together. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top and serve warm or at room temperature.
See lots more tasty vegan chickpea recipes.