5 Vegetarian and Vegan Israeli Couscous Recipes

From salad to risotto, there are plenty of ways to use this couscous

Israeli couscous Ptitim with vegetables
Derkien / Getty Images

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

Israeli couscous is cooked similarly to regular couscous. Combine 1 cup of the 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 is not gluten-free. 

  • 01 of 05

    Israeli Salad With Pearl Couscous and Tomatoes (Vegan)

    Vegetarian Israeli salad with pearl couscous

    Vegetarian Israeli salad with pearl couscous photo by J. Hackett

    If you like tabouli, then you'll like this similar Israeli-style vegan salad. Simple and fresh, the salad is made with pearl couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh parsley, and lemon juice. Although the recipe is quite dependent on the fresh chopped parsley for flavor, feel free to also try it with freshly chopped cilantro. It is best made ahead of time so the flavors have a chance to meld. 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 (Vegetarian)

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

    Getty Images 

    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. Try another hard cheese in place of the Parmesan, or consider a local goat gouda or sheep's milk cheese for something different.

    Unlike traditional arborio rice risotto recipes, when using couscous, you only need to add the broth in 2 portions and cook for a short amount of time. This dish is completed in under a half an hour!

  • 03 of 05

    Israeli Couscous With Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds (Vegan)

    Israeli Couscous with Cranberries and Almonds

    Miri Rotkovitz

    This recipe brings interesting textures and contrasting flavors together to create a colorful and satisfying side or main dish. The crunch of almonds is the perfect counterpoint to the chewiness of the dried cranberries and couscous, and the scallions add a nice, bright green finish. The dressing ingredients combine sweet and tart tastes, adding a vibrant touch to this vegan dish.

  • 04 of 05

    Coconut Couscous (Vegan)

    Two Bowls of Couscous. Kai Schwabe/Getty Images

    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. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Falafel-Spiced Middle Eastern Couscous (Vegetarian)

    Falafel Spiced Middle Eastern Couscous

     Anita Schecter

    Almost like a deconstructed falafel combined with Israeli couscous, this recipe takes the flavors and ingredients of the Middle Eastern fried chickpea patty and pairs them with the tender pearls of couscous. Seasoned tomatoes and chickpeas are roasted until tender and crispy and then tossed with cooked Israeli couscous, cilantro, and feta cheese. To make this recipe vegan, simply eliminate the cheese (but be sure to taste for needed salt since the cheese adds salt to the dish).