Israeli Pearl Couscous with Chicken and Peas
Have you ever had Pearl Couscous?
Well, Pearl Couscous or Israeli Couscous, depending who you talk to… it goes by both names, actually, and sometimes even uses both denomination simultaneously.
Whatever you decide to call it, though, if you haven’t tried it yet, you totally have to fix this. Seriously, this stuff is awesome!
Texture-wise, it’s kinda like a cross between barley and pasta; it’s chewy and soft at the same time, and sort of pops in your mouth as you chew it down.
Taste-wise, it’s also very similar to pasta, (well, technically, it IS a whole-grain like food made from wheat semolina, just like pasta) only it’s slightly toasted, so it has the subtlest and most enjoyable nutty aroma. Oh man, talk about yummy!
I think it’s my new favorite thing in the whole wide world. For now…
Nutrition-wise, while it’s not what we could call a veritable nutrition powerhouse, Pearl Couscous is a very good source of dietary fiber, selenium and iron, vitamin B, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate and pantothenic acid. Oh, and it will obviously provide your body with a good amount of relatively slow burning carbs, for long lasting energy!
A staple food item in Jerusalem, Israeli Couscous is also enjoyed by many people around the world, so you should be able to spot it fairly easily at your local grocery store, probably in the rice section or ethnic food aisle.
Trust me, it’s very well worth the search… ‘Cuz this Israeli Pearl Couscous with Chicken and Peas, it will totally blow your mind!
A few notes before you start: to make it, I used my beloved Dutch Oven Chicken Bone Broth undiluted, and I strongly suggest that you do the same. You will not believe the amount of flavor that it confers to the dish.
And while we’re on the subject of flavor, I urge you to not even consider leaving the lemon out: it does SO MUCH to the overall flavor of the couscous dish. Like seriously. You’ll understand exactly what I mean with your very first bite. The combination of the highly aromatic chicken stock, zesty lemon and sharp Parmesan cheese feels like a volcano is erupting right inside your mouth.
In a good way, you’ll see — in a good way!
In fact, you might want to have safety belts installed on your chairs, just in case! This stuff is so good, it might throw you straight to the floor.
First you must heat some oil in a saute pan (or any other pan that possesses its own fitting lid) set over medium-high heat.
Once hot, add the onion, salt and pepper and cook until brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Then, throw in the dry pearl couscous and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until the couscous is slightly toasted; this will give it even more of that delicious nutty flavor!
Next, add the chicken broth, lemon zest and lemon juice and bring to the boil; Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes – until the couscous is al dente and the broth is about three quarters of the way absorbed.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until that chicken broth completely disappears on you: you want there to be some left to create a little bit of a “sauce” for the dish. As you can see, the starch in the couscous will take care of making it nice and creamy for you.
When you get to that point, kill the heat and stir in the cooked chicken, Parmesan cheese, green peas and arugula and then mix to combine.
Put the lid back on and allow the couscous to rest for about 5 minutes, or until the arugula is completely wilted and the peas and chicken are heated all the way through.
Serve your couscous while it’s still piping hot, garnished with a handful of additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
And prepare to be amazed…
Israeli Pearl Couscous with Chicken and Peas
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1-1/4 cups uncooked pearl couscous
- 3 cups chicken bone broth
- the juice and zest from 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt, I use Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite size chunks
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
- 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- Heat the olive oil in a saute pan set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, salt and pepper and cook until brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Throw in the dry couscous and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until the couscous is slightly toasted.
- Add the chicken broth, lemon zest and lemon juice and bring to the boil; Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes – until the couscous is al dente and about 3/4 of the broth has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat, stir in the cooked chicken, Parmesan cheese, green peas and arugula and mix until well combined. Cover and allow to rest for about 5 minutes, until the arugula is completely wilted and the peas and chicken are heated all the way through.
- Serve immediately, garnished with additional grated Parmesan cheese if desired.