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Israeli Pearl Couscous Recipe (with Apples + Herbs)

This delicious Israeli Pearl Couscous recipe with a fresh herb dressing and crisp apples makes the perfect, simple side dish or light lunch. One of the wonderful things you’ll love about this recipe is that you can serve it warm or at room temperature, or even chilled.

Like this Asparagus Salad and Greek Quinoa Salad, it’s an ideal healthy salad to take to your next potluck or backyard BBQ.

israeli couscous with apples in bowl

Israeli Couscous and Apple Salad

This amazingly simple couscous recipe packs a big punch of flavor with the perfect balance of nutty flavors from pearl couscous and the bright and refreshing flavors of fresh herbs and the lemony vinaigrette dressing. 

Couscous salads are some of my favorite side dishes because you can add a wide variety of ingredients making it a unique recipe each time. For this recipe crisp green apples are used to give it a sweet and tart bite that works in wonderful contrast to fresh herbs and tender pearl couscous.

If you’ve never heard of Israeli couscous, you may have seen it referred to as pearl couscous or p’titim or maybe giant couscous. It can be found in the ethnic aisle in grocery stores.

In this recipe, like others, Israeli couscous has a neutral flavor and with soft, chewy texture, that’s just perfect for absorbing all the herby and tangy flavors in the dressing.

I also want to add, couscous often gets confused with quinoa. If you are new to this eating healthy as I was just a few years ago, you may want to get familiar with couscous vs quinoa. Both are great, but there are some distinct differences.

Why We Love This Recipe

  • Healthy and simple ingredients make this an easy side dish that goes with any main course meal.
  • Lots of fresh herbs are used to give this tasty side dish amazing bright flavors.
  • The pearl couscous has a pleasant nuttier flavor than regular couscous.
  • Can be served as a delicious vegetarian side dish.

Recommended Tools:

  • Medium Saucepan
  • Sharp Kitchen Knife
  • Measuring Cup
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Citrus Juicier
  • Large Bowl

Add-ins and Variations

There are endless ways to change up the salad. Here are some poplar choices for you to consider the next time you make it:

  • Cheeses: Feta cheese or parmesan cheese are great choice for this salad because they have a stronger flavor that complement the fresh herbs nicely.
  • Fresh veggies: There are so vegetables you can add to this salad. Green onions, cherry tomatoes, red onion or diced bell peppers are all wonderful ideas. Diced up roasted cauliflower or sweet potatoes also make a great creamy addition.
  • Fruits: Golden raisins, dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds can add the perfect amount of sweetness to this salad.
  • Nuts: If you want to add a little more crunch, add some pine nuts or toasted walnuts or pecans for really great texture.
  • Pasta water: A great way to add even more incredible flavor to this salad, you can cook the small pearls in chicken broth or your favorite broth instead of water.
  • Herbs and spices: The best part about this recipe is the nutty flavor of Israeli couscous taste great with just about any of your favorite herbs and spices. You can add roasted garlic for a very tasty garlicky Israeli couscous. Or you can add a heaping spoonful of citrus zest to give it a bright and summery twist. Red peppers flakes are an awesome way to give it a little bit of heat.
dill herbs being chopped on cutting board

Ingredients Needed

  • Pearl Couscous
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Granny Smith Apples, diced
  • Italian Parsley, chopped
  • Fresh Dill, chopped
  • Fresh mint, chopped
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice (fresh lemon zest-optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
woman with handful of israeli pearl couscous

How to Make this Easy Israeli Couscous Recipe

Step One: Prepare the Couscous

Cook the couscous to al dente in lightly salted boiling water according to package instructions. Strain water out and set aside.

Step Two: Chop Apples and Herbs

Dice the apples into bite size pieces and finely chop the herbs. In a large serving bowl add apples, parsley, dill, mint and basil. Toss to combine.

Step Three: Assemble Salad

Add couscous to medium sized bowl. Add apple and herb mixture.

Step Four: Prepare the Dressing and Serve

Prepare dressing by combining lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl or jar. Pour dressing over salad mixture and gently toss to combine. Serve this pearl couscous salad immediately.

green apples on cutting board

Pearl Couscous Recipe FAQs

What is Israeli Couscous?

Interestingly, most people consider it a whole grain but it’s actually a small type of pasta made with semolina flour. It was originally developed in the 1950s as in inexpensive way to help feed the all the immigrants arriving in Israel.

Can I Make Couscous in Advance?

Couscous is really tasty when eaten right away but you can also make it several hours in advance and just keep it covered in the fridge giving the flavors time to marry. If you are planning on making this a day or two in advance, wait to add the apples so they stay crispy and bright.

Before serving the next day, be sure and fluff the couscous with a fork to break up the pasta beads and to redistribute the dressing. 

Can I Reheat this Couscous Salad?

If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge in an airtight container. If you want to serve this salad warm, just know that the apples will break down some when heated up, but it will still taste amazing.

To warm it up, just add the leftovers to a saucepan over medium heat with a couple tablespoons of water. Continually stir until the couscous absorbs the water and is slightly warmed through. You don’t want it hot, just warmed enough to knock the chill off.  Fluff it with a fork and serve! 

What Should I Serve with Couscous and Apple Salad?

There is almost as much protein in one cup of couscous as there is in a serving of ground beef so you could actually serve this dish as a light lunch all by itself. But if you’re watching carbs and wanted to serve smaller portions with one of these healthy and delicious recipes:

What are the Different Popular Types of Couscous?

  • Moroccan couscous: The smallest shape of couscous and only takes minutes to cook. 
  • Pearl or Israeli couscous: Slightly larger than Moroccan couscous which helps it to easily absorb flavors of herbs and dressings. It is also sometimes called Jerusalem couscous in recipes.
  • Lebanese couscous: The largest of the type of couscous. It’s still made from semolina flour, but it’s formed into larger pea-sized shapes and had a bit of a nuttier favor. 

Is Couscous Healthy?

Pearl couscous is a wonderful source of fiber which helps you to feel fuller for longer periods. It’s also great source of plant-based protein, which means you can include it in vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets alike.

Because couscous is made using semolina wheat flour, it is considered a rather high gluten food, so if you’re on a low carb diet, you’ll want to it in moderation.

bowl of apple couscous with herbs

Want More Healthy Side Dish Recipes?

israeli pearl couscous recipe in a bowl with apples and herbs

Israeli Pearl Couscous with Apples and Herbs

Published By Stephanie
This delicious Israeli Pearl Couscous recipe with a fresh herb dressing and crisp apples makes the perfect, simple side dish or light lunch. Serve it warm or room temperature, it's an ideal healthy salad to take to your next potluck or backyard BBQ.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 servings
Calories 346 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 granny smith apples diced
  • 1 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 cup fresh dill chopped
  • 6-8 leaves fresh mint chopped
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil chopped
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Cook the couscous to al dente in lightly salted boiling water according to package instructions and set aside.
  • Dice the apples into bite size pieces and finely chop the herbs. In a large serving bowl add apples, parsley, dill, mint and basil. Toss to combine.
  • Add couscous to medium sized bowl. Add apple and herb mixture.
  • Prepare dressing by combining lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl or jar. Pour dressing over salad mixture and gently toss to combine. Serve this pearl couscous salad immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 346kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 7gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 22mgPotassium: 378mgFiber: 6gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 2268IUVitamin C: 49mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 3mg
Keyword apples, couscous
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