Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Now for something different - pearl couscous

Here’s something a bit different – pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous because it is sometimes made in Israel). I was sent a sample* of blu Gourmet Pearl Couscous and was keen to try it, given that it is fairly new to the Australian market.

Pearl couscous is made from hard wheat, toasted in an open flame oven. It is cooked in a similar way to pasta, by simmering in stock, and can be used as an alternative to pasta and rice. Pearl couscous has a low GI rating, and, interestingly, contains 626 kJ per 100g, while regular couscous has 1500kJ per 100g.

I prepared some by using the couscous as a replacement for rice in a risotto-like recipe. I mean, it was certainly easier to make than regular risotto, just chuck everything into a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. The larger couscous grains are great because they absorb the flavour of the stock it is cooked in without going soggy. I was really pleased with the final result of silky grains of couscous, and my taste tester said that it was fantastic (high praise, indeed!).
There are some further recipes on
this website.

Pearl couscous with bacon and mushroom
Serves 2-3

1 tsp olive oil
100g bacon, chopped
100g mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp crushed garlic
1 cup pearl couscous
1 ½ cups chicken stock
80g baby spinach or rocket
Parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat
2. Add bacon and cook for about 3 minutes
3. Add mushrooms and garlic, and stir until the mushrooms are soft
4. Add the pearl couscous and stir to coat
5. Pour in the chicken stock, stir, then bring to the boil
6. Reduce heat and simmer, with lid on, for 10 minutes. The liquid should be nearly all absorbed.

7. Remove from the heat and mix in the spinach or rocket so that it wilts.
8. Spoon the couscous into bowls with some parmesan sprinkled on top, if you like.

blu Gourmet Pearl Couscous is available from selected Coles supermarkets for $3.49/pack

Gabriel Gaté is the brand ambassador (which is why he's on the packet);
comparison of regular couscous (less than 1mm) and pearl couscous (3mm)

Preparing the couscous: stir in the couscous with bacon and mushrooms;
add the chicken stock; simmer with lid on for 10 mins; add spinach at the end

Serve with parmesan cheese, if you like

* Thanks to by Liz at Haystac for the sample!


  1. Looks so healthy (even with the bacon!). I have never cooked couscous. If it is anything like rice then I will turn it into a disaster!

  2. I am in love with those giant couscous! They are great for lunch!

  3. I love pearl couscous, but haven't cooked it myself before. This recipe looks delicious! Great photos :)

  4. Wow, I have never seen pearl coucous before! I'm intrigued to know what they taste like! They look like savoury sagos!

  5. Oo, it looks much bigger than normal couscous. Bacon, mushroom and spinach sounds so flavoursome, and I love the idea of a quick way to make a risotto.

  6. I don't know that it's healthier than risotto, just different starch. That said, I love it best. Before the Israeli couscous became more readily available, I used the Italian pasta called Ancini de Pepe, looks a lot like the couscous but I toasted it in butter or oil before adding the liquid. If you can't find the couscous where you live, you might try the pasta.

  7. Never heard of them before.. I should definitely give it a try. Definitely looks interesting!

  8. Your recipe looks great! :) I love the comparison shot too, it really shows the size difference. Size does matter right?! :P

  9. The pearls look very pretty. I would love to try this, thanks for introducing me to something new :)

  10. oh it looks so lush, I've never tried pearl cous cous before, but now I really wanna chow some!

  11. hi Megan - you should give the pearl couscous a go - it doesn't go soggy so you don't have to worry about ruining it!

    hi Anh - aren't they great, they have a lovely texture.

    hi Conor - I'd never eaten them before now. I'll be on the lookout for them when I eat out, too.

    hi Rilsta - the couscous is like pasta, so it's best cooked in something with flavour, like chicken stock.

    hi Arwen - I'm afraid I cheat a bit when making risotto as well (pre-cooked rice!). But the couscous is much easier to prepare.

    hi Anonymous - I've not come across Ancini de Pepe before, is it like Tempeste pasta? If so, then yes, I think it would be similar to the pearl couscous. Thanks for the rec.

    hi clekitty - the pearl couscous if fairly new in Australia. Keep and eye out for it.

    hi Lorraine - hehe, bigger IS better (when it comes to couscous, that is!)

    hi Anita - you're welcome. That's the good thing about foodblogs - there's always something new to try.

    hi Polita - glad you liked it!

    hi Maria - nomnomnom! Me too, I might try another recipe with them soon.

  12. I have never tried pearl cous cous but I sure will now. It almost looks like you are eating a bunch of fish eggs.

  13. omg! i just made this for dinner/lunch for work tomorrow. AMAZING! I had a box of israeli couscous just sitting in my cupboard and i had to think of a way to eat it. now i know! many thanks!