Israeli Couscous “Tabbouleh”

I don’t know about where you live, but the weather this summer in Vermont has been “pants,” as my friend in Switzerland would say. Very rainy and very humid. I wilt like a flower when I go outside and my hair has been a permanent Afro for weeks. I heard on the radio the other day we just completed the longest stretch of humid weather on record! (And after a two-day reprieve, humid weather all this week.) So since the weather isn’t ideal for cooking, I try to make dishes that bring at least a little bit of cool to the palate in the evening.

My inspiration for this was from a recipe I saw that was similar, so apologies for not giving proper credit because I can’t remember where, although I think it was Mark Bittman. I’m not crazy about a traditional tabbouleh, but this was different and fresh, cool, and delicious!

Israeli couscous are small pearl-like grains of pasta that resemble uncooked tapioca. Unlike its smaller brother, it takes a little longer to cook and you cook it like pasta, not steam in the water. I buy it in bulk at the coop, but you may be able to find it in your local grocery store near the “regular” couscous. I bought some because these fine pearls were so pretty, but wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to cook. Turns out summer salads is it! The couscous, though, is not the star of this dish; if you have some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from your garden or the farmer’s market, they will shine, with the couscous playing a supporting role.

Helpful Kitchen Hint: Cook the couscous in the morning when it’s cool.  (It takes 10-12 minutes or so.) That way when you’re ready to make dinner, that step is done and you don’t have to wait for it to cool down! Add a little bit of oil to avoid sticking or just rinse with water before making the salad.

For those following a gluten-free diet, quinoa would be a great substitute. A salad like this is great because it is something you can do on the fly, measurements the way you want to do it, and you can add or subtract whatever you like! If you want more tomatoes, want to substitute zucchini instead of cucumbers, add some fresh corn or peas, or use less mint, have at it. This makes a great vegetarian hot weather main or side dish, or you can add some shrimp, chicken, or even tuna for some extra protein!
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Israeli Couscous “Tabbouleh”

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 ¼ water
A tablespoon or so extra virgin olive oil
The juice of one lemon
Grape tomatoes, halved
½ cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeded and diced
A couple of tablespoons shallots or red onion, diced and minced
1 can garbanzo beans
Feta cheese
Mint leaves
Salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the couscous, and cook for about 10 minutes or so, or until done.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the couscous and cool. Add the lemon juice, oil, vegetables, beans,  cheese, mint leaves, and salt and pepper (and extra protein if desired). Chill for about 30 minutes, then serve!

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13 thoughts on “Israeli Couscous “Tabbouleh”

  1. Looks yummy! I’ve been trying to use up my unopened pack of israelii couscous – been putting it off because I’ve never cooked with it before. Might give it a try now.

  2. This sounds so good and similar to a southwest salad I had last night. We grabbed a quick dinner at our favorite local and they were featuring orzo with corn, red peppers cilantro and feta with a cilantro lime dressing. I ordered it with shrimp and can’t wait to have the rest for lunch. Light and tasty. I think I’ll make yours later in the week. Stay cool!!

  3. I just love that “pants” has worked its way onto your blog! 😉
    Well, your ‘Swiss’ friend happens to have a Lebanese other half, and he’d be mighty upset to hear that tabbouleh is considered something Israeli…. but not wanting to get into Middle Eastern culinary politics, I have to say that the Lebanese tabbouleh’s key ingredient is lots and lots of flat-leaved parsley, and bulgur wheat (in lieu of couscous), so it actually looks and tastes somewhat different. Very refreshing, too, it’s the start to virtually every meal in the summer.
    Sahtain! صحتين

    • Well, not considered Israeli, but that’s the name of the couscous. How it got its name, I’m not sure…I’m going to have to do some investigating! The recipes I’ve seen here for it have mint and parsley, but parsley gets used so sparingly, I just used the mint, but authentic sounds delicious! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Summertime Holiday Dishes Plus MVK’s Food News of the Week | My Vermont Kitchen

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