With summer winding down, it’s the right time to enjoy the last of the warm-weather barbecues, picnics and salads-as-main-dishes before the season of pumpkins, blustery walks and wooly sweaters comes in. I think pearl couscous salad is a fitting farewell to summer.
I’m sure it helps that pearl couscous is one of my new favorite things to eat. I can’t get enough! It takes no time at all (well, ok, maybe a few minutes) and it’s just perfect for a light lunch or as a side for a barbecue. Protip: Try it with lamb.
I have no idea what made me want it so intensely, I saw a recipe online and I decided that I absolutely had to have it … and I just keep going back for more bags of it. Giant/pearl/Israeli couscous is surprisingly different from regular couscous, even if it’s made from the same stuff, semolina flour. The chewy, springy texture makes a big difference, and it holds its own with other ingredients.
In the UK, you can find it at Waitrose and Tesco – probably the other shops too, but I haven’t tried. I’ve been getting my 500 g bags from Tesco at £0.89 each… not a bad investment for what ends up being quite a bit of couscous. Those suckers really grow in size.
There are so many different things you can pair with this big, chunky couscous, but I’ve decided to show you what I’ve been doing with it lately.
I think Greek/Mediterranean flavors work really well in the summer – even when I’m stuck inside a flat in the middle of London, I can imagine sitting by the beach with a big plate of couscous, cucumber and feta. (Everyone daydreams about that… right?) Since I’m not sure a warm, sunny holiday is in the cards this year, I think I’m just going to have to keep on indulging in chewy couscous and summery ingredients.
On the Counter
200g (8 oz) pearl couscous
1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil + 2 tbsp reserved
200mL (1 cup) water
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 small cucumber (or 1/2 English cucumber) diced
1 roasted red pepper
50g (2oz) feta cheese
10 Greek olives, pitted and chopped
3 sprigs fresh parsley (or coriander/cilantro), chopped
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Other ingredients I’ve used:
What to Do
Heat the 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan until shimmering. Add in the couscous, and stir frequently until it starts smelling nutty and turning slightly brown, about 2-3 minutes. (If you don’t stir frequently it will burn, so be careful!)
Add water, bring to a boil.Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the couscous is still chewy, but not hard in the center.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, cucumber, herbs, feta, olives, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
Once the couscous is cooked, wash thoroughly with cold water.
Toss the couscous and the rest of the ingredients together, and add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
And – that’s it!
Pearl couscous salad handles itself very well in the fridge, and makes for good leftovers. For the last barbecue of the season or a breezy picnic in the park, you can easily make it a day ahead.