Vegetarian and Vegan Israeli Couscous Recipes

Israeli Couscous with Cranberries and Almonds
Israeli Couscous with Cranberries and Almonds. © Miri Rotkovitz

A type of tiny pasta, Israeli couscous is slightly different than its sibling, regular old couscous. While the standard version looks like tiny little grains, Israeli couscous — also known as pearl couscous — is slightly larger, toasted, and has a bit of a chewy texture and nutty flavor.

Cook Israeli couscous by combining 1 cup of pasta with 1 1/4 cups of water or vegetable broth, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the remaining liquid and eat it plain or use it in a favorite grain-based dish. The heartiness of Israeli couscous makes it perfect for vegetarian or vegan dishes, but it should be noted that, as couscous is made from wheat, it's not gluten-free. 

  • 01 of 05

    Israeli Salad with Pearl Couscous and Tomatoes

    Israeli couscous Ptitim with vegetables
    Derkien / Getty Images

     If you like tabouli, you'll like this similar vegan salad. A simple, fresh Israeli-style salad, it's made with pearl couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh parsley, and lemon juice. Although the recipe is quite dependent on the fresh chopped parsley for flavor, try it with freshly chopped cilantro. If you're not eating vegan, you might like to crumble a bit of feta cheese on top.

  • 02 of 05

    Israeli Couscous Risotto With Spinach and Parmesan

    Israeli couscous risotto with spinach and Parmesan cheese - vegetarian - pearl couscous
    Israeli couscous risotto with spinach and Parmesan cheese - vegetarian - pearl couscous.

    Israeli couscous makes for a fine, if slightly less creamy, risotto. This simple vegetarian recipe is made with spinach and Parmesan cheese and prepared with a splash of white wine. If you like local or artisan cheeses, this recipe is a great place to use them. Try another hard cheese in place of the Parmesan, or consider a local goat gouda or sheep's milk cheese.

  • 03 of 05

    Venetian-Style Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi)

    Vegetable couscous salad
    Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images

    For simplicity (or for picky eaters!), you really can't beat this basic recipe that hails from Venice, Italy. Replace the rice with Israeli couscous for a chewier texture and simmer it in vegetable stock, rather than the chicken stock the original recipe calls for. Vegans might want to add a bit of nutritional yeast to boost the flavor a bit, or Parmesan cheese, if you're not eating dairy-free. 

  • 04 of 05

    Coconut Couscous

    This simple vegan side dish calls for just a handful of ingredients: Israeli couscous, coconut milk, water, salt, and sliced green onions. If you want to lower the calories in the dish, use light coconut milk; however, a full-fat coconut milk will provide more flavor. The salt and green onions shouldn't be skipped, as they also provide an abundance of flavor in a dish that could be bland if not seasoned properly. Top the couscous with beans, chickpeas, or tofu to increase the protein content and make it a full meal. 

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  • 05 of 05

    Moroccan Couscous With Seven Vegetables

    This nutritious dish can be made with regular or Israeli couscous. While it can be served topped with poultry or beef, the chickpeas and fava beans provide a healthy dose of protein that makes it an excellent vegetarian dish sans meat. The inclusion of turmeric and ginger provides a Moroccan flavor that's different than the Italian-style dishes that couscous is often used in. Feel free to substitute any vegetables you have lingering in the crisper as a sort of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink dish.