Pearl Couscous Salad

I had a package of Bob’s Red Mill Pearled Couscous in my pantry for months and thought a family gathering would be the perfect place to try out a new recipe. I searched the Internet for options and thumbed through a bunch of cookbooks. I ended up using a Giada De Laurentiis recipe as my base – but changed it up with substitutions and deletions – especially after reading some of the review feedback on the Food Network website.

The Ingredients:

2 Cups Pearl Couscous (Also known as Israeli Couscous)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
1.5 – 2  Medium Granny Smith Apples – diced
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts – toasted
1/4 Cup Red Onion – finely chopped
1/4 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley – finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped
2 Heaping Teaspoons Fresh Thyme – finely chopped

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2-3 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Pepper


  1. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the pearl couscous and cook – stirring occasionally until slightly browned  (4-5 minutes)
  3. Add the veggie broth and bring to a boil. The veggie broth will turn the couscous an orange color, chicken stock would leave it more natural in color.  Simmer until the liquid has mostly evaporated – Giada’s recipe suggested 10-12 minutes, mine took just over 15.
  4. Transfer the cooked couscous to a large bowl and set aside for cooling. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, red onion, apple, dried cranberries, and toasted pine nuts.
  5. For the vinaigrette: In a medium sized bowl, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly.

The salad can be served warm or cold – I really liked it either way. My family ended up eating it cold as a side dish to my brother’s amazing grilled pork tenderloin.

A photo of the couscous after cooking it in the olive oil.

I’ve decided that thyme is indeed one of my favorite herbs. I simply love that it doesn’t overpower things when added to other herbs. If you aren’t a rosemary fan, you definitely will want to cut down on that ingredient – because it was a strong player in this recipe.

I diced up my apples (cut the apples into wedges and ended up eating 2 – so 1.5 apples were used) and then added a little extra lemon juice and zest before adding them to the couscous bowl.

I had pine nuts left over from my pomegranate salsa – so I used those instead of Giada’s suggested slivered almonds from her recipe.

The lemon juice/zest really helped the vinaigrette – as did the addition of salt. You might have to play around with the measurements of salt and pepper – it’s personal taste on those. Giada’s recipe must have a typo… hers had a tablespoon of salt… that’s a whole BUNCH of salt – I also think where the majority of the negative review feedback stemmed from.

I thought the liquid was going to be too much, but it turned out perfect. If you plan on storing the dish overnight before serving, you might want to leave the nuts out until before serving – unless of course you go with a heartier nut.

The Giada recipe stated 4-6 servings – We had 7 people and had enough left overs for 4-5 more. The salad was a huge hit with my family and would be perfect to bring to BBQ’s, picnics, potlucks, etc. I will for sure be making this dish again.

Do you have a favorite summer salad? I’m pretty partial to my Mom’s macaroni salad – I may just have to put the recipe here on Foodiddy… since I ask her for it every time I want to make it. 🙂

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    • Dave2 on May 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    VEGETABLE BROTH?!? THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This looks amazing, and I’ve already added the ingredients to my shopping list!

      • foodiddy on May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      I was actually thinking about you when I made that switch from Giada’s original recipe 🙂

    • Sybil Law on May 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Yum! Looks and sounds delicious!

    • Mommers on May 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I can attest to it tasting just fantastic. I even ate some left overs two days later and it was still good. Foo is for sure on the hook to bring this to another get together sometime in the future ………..Mommers

    • Pod on May 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    That was indeed a super side dish….I had it a couple of more times with the container you left for us. I look forward to having it again…REALLY GOOD. Pod.

    • Amy on May 21, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I love couscous and all the other ingredients in this….I’ll definitely be trying this!

    • Cathy on July 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Hi, just popping in to tell you your wonderful salad is in The Inspired Dish’s ** ’10 Delicious, Healthy and Refreshing Summer Salads’** lineup today! We love it! Visit & grab our ‘featured recipe badge’ for your blog if you like!

    • susan on October 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    A friend introduced us to this last weekend. Love it and have just made a batch myself.
    I had to sub balsamic for the Apple Cider Vinegar as I have one who can’t tolerate ACV, and for the same dietary constraint, had to leave out the red onion as well. The good news is, it still tastes great.
    Absolutely love the textural contrasts between the cranberries, the pearl couscous and the Granny Smith apples/

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