Lemony Pearl Couscous with Tomato, Bell Pepper and Spinach

I’m not really big on regular couscous, but I love pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous), which is made of the same stuff (semolina) but comes in a larger size. This lemony pearl couscous is a healthy side that goes well with meat dishes, especially anything heavily spiced.

How to Serve Lemony Pearl Couscous

This serves about four people as a side dish, but you could also enjoy it as a light main, perhaps with an egg or two on top. This is how I usually eat the leftovers.

I like eating lemony pearl couscous with simple meat dishes, and I think it complements spicy food especially well.

Substitutions and Additions

As you may have guessed, you can use just about any kind of vegetable you like in this dish.

To make this dish vegetarian, you can swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

You may also swap out the preserved lemon for regular lemon since I know it may be difficult to find, and it does have a particular taste that some people may not like. To use regular lemon, stir through some zest and juice to taste once the dish has finished cooking.

How to Make Lemony Pearl Couscous

Equipment

I recommend using a non-stick skillet for this dish, but stainless steel will also work. You may just find the couscous sticks a bit towards the end of cooking.

I love cast iron, but I don’t think it works so well here, though it will do if that’s all you have. If you are using a cast iron skillet, you will almost certainly find you need to add more liquid while cooking the couscous. Because the skillet retains heat so well, it won’t cool enough to simmer the couscous gently once you reduce the heat and the liquid will evaporate before the couscous is cooked. Check the liquid level about halfway through the simmering time, and add a splash more chicken stock as needed.

Cook Onion

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, or until just beginning to soften.

Add Bell Pepper, Tomato, Preserved Lemon and Couscous

Add the bell pepper, tomato, preserved lemon, and couscous and cook, stirring often, for about 3-4 minutes, or until onion is translucent. The couscous might start to look toasted at this point; this is a good thing.

Add Vermouth and Chicken Stock

Add the vermouth or dry white wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until couscous is nearly tender.

It is important to note here that cooking times may differ and so may the liquid amount, depending on the heat of your stove. Add more liquid and increase the cooking time if it seems necessary by this point.

Add Spinach and Parsley

Stir in the spinach and cook, covered, for another 2 minutes, until spinach is wilted and couscous is fully cooked. Stir in parsley and serve.

Lemony Pearl Couscous with Tomato, Bell Pepper and Spinach

A healthy accompaniment to any meal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 large finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind minced
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups baby spinach roughly chopped (about 3 oz)
  • 3 tablespoons parsley finely chopped

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until just beginning to soften.
  • Add bell pepper, tomatoes, preserved lemon and couscous and cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, or until onion is translucent and couscous is beginning to look toasted.
  • Add vermouth and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer 8-10 minutes, covered, until couscous is nearly tender.
  • Stir in spinach and cook about 2 minutes longer, until spinach is wilted and couscous is fully cooked. Stir in parsley and serve.

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