Lemon Israeli Couscous

This pearl-like Israeli couscous is cooked in chicken stock for extra flavor and tossed with peas, mint, parsley, and lemon zest. A simple, yet elegant, side dish.

A wooden bowl filled with lemon Israeli couscous with a serving spoon inside and some lemon halves in the background.

Israeli couscous is different from the North African version, which has a more fine-grained, fluffy texture. Also known as Middle Eastern couscous, Israeli couscous has larger, pearl-like balls that cook up with a chewy texture that is similar to pasta.–Renée Behnke

*Can I make couscous in advance?

The couscous continues to absorb liquid after cooking, so will be at its best made not more than an hour in advance. You may need to add a little more stock or water to keep it from clumping together. Reheat gently over low heat before serving.

Lemon Israeli Couscous

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 20 M
  • 40 M
  • Serves 8
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and aromatic. Stir in the couscous and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, until evenly coated with oil and lightly toasty in aroma. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, until tender.

Stir the peas, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil into the couscous, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the couscous, stirring, over medium-low heat until the mint and lemon are aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes longer. The couscous should be tender and the mixture fluffy, not soupy. If it’s too dry, add a few tablespoons more stock or water. Originally published July 14, 2009.

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    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Though this was a simple recipe, I was still impressed. It retains all of the flavors of couscous, it's moist, and has a nice chew. Cooking it in chicken broth definitely adds flavor, and the peas and parsley give it a nice sprinkle of color.

    At first, I thought it was a bit too soupy, but after letting it sit in the pot for a few minutes, the couscous absorbed the liquid and became just right. My only gripe is that eight servings yields very small portions. I really like that it’s not a finicky recipe—once you get the hang of the ingredients, you can pretty much eyeball the amounts to taste.

    There’s nothing I’d change about this recipe. I loved the pasta-like texture of the lemon Israeli couscous. The flavors of the mint, lemon, and parsley melded beautifully and were in perfect balance. This held up well as a leftover side dish for the next evening’s dinner (with grilled salmon and sautéed squash).

    Be sure to make your own stock, or, if short on time, use a high-quality, store-bought stock or broth. The quality of your stock will definitely affect the flavor of this dish.

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