Okay guys, I did it. I concocted another delicious side dish recipe! This Israeli couscous salad features a refreshing flavor combination, with carrots, parsley and a tasty lemon oregano vinaigrette.
I got the idea for this couscous salad from J.Alexander’s, a national restaurant chain that happens to be one of my favorite lunchtime spots when I’m at our local mall. They have an amazing Israeli couscous side dish that is pretty much my favorite thing on the menu! I wanted to recreate a similar salad at home with a slightly different flavor combo.
That side dish at J.Alexander’s (and this recipe!) is a favorite because Israeli couscous is such a staple in my pasta repertoire. It has a highly interesting historical story too. In Israeli in the 1950’s, there was a high demand and low supply of rice. Originally called ptitim, Israeli couscous was developed during this time period because the prime minister asked the Osem food company to create a wheat-based rice substitute due to the rice supply issue. The company therefore developed ptitim, which came to be named Israeli couscous by the Western culinary world.
This pasta is made of wheat flour that is roasted in an oven in small ball shapes. It has a texture similar to pasta in the same way that orzo is a pasta and not a rice. This is part of the reason I love this ingredient so much: because it is incredibly adaptable. It can be used in a multitude of pasta dishes, but also can behave like rice, for example, in a risotto dish!
For this recipe, I wanted to develop a light pasta side dish. This is a pretty versatile recipe: it can be paired with a chicken or fish entree, or even beef or lamb! The flavor profile is refreshing, with fresh grated carrot, beautifully fragrant parsley, and tangy dried cranberries. The vinaigrette is a super quick standard vinaigrette amped up with the deliciousness that is dried oregano!
Now it’s your turn: let me know what you think of this recipe below, and also share with me your thoughts on Israeli couscous!
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter, unsalted
- 1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup carrot, granted
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup parsley, finely minced
- 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- In a medium-sized heavy bottom saucepan heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. When butter is melted and beginning to bubble, add couscous. Toast for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add chicken stock, water, and salt and stir to combine. Cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until cooked.
- Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients and vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together white wine vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice and oregano. While whisking, stream in olive oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When couscous as cooked, drain excess liquid (if necessary). Add couscous to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly four about 5 minutes. Add carrot, dried cranberries, and parsley. Drizzle in about half of the vinaigrette and toss until combined. Taste couscous and add more vinaigrette and/or season with salt and pepper to taste as desired.