Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley

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I’ve come to realize that I haven’t shared too many side dish recipes on this ‘ol blog here. There are many side dish options here on RecipeGirl… but to be featured in the coveted blog spotlight is a tough gig to get. And truthfully, side dishes just aren’t usually all that droolworthy. Here’s one you can drool over though: Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley

There are a few other things tucked in there that you may be able to spot: golden raisins (trust me… that little sweetness added in there is a very good thing, indeed!), shallots, and a little bit of lemon zest.

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley 1

Are you familiar with Israeli (pearl) couscous?  It’s larger than traditional couscous, it’s round, and it cooks up quickly to a wonderfully chewy consistency.  I messed with the recipe on the back of the box of Israeli couscous from Trader Joe’s.  It looked good enough to me, so why not?

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley 2

Toasted pine nuts are one of the things that make this planet a nice place to live.  Try and eat just one.  Try and eat five.  It’s impossible.  When they’re toasted, they’re just sooooo good.  They tend to be expensive, so I splurge on a large bag at Costco and store them in the freezer so they’ll last a long time.

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley 3

Step 1:  Saute the shallots in a smidge of butter until they are golden-brown, then add the dry couscous, a bay leaf and a cinnamon stick.  Push around the couscous for a while until it gets a little bit toasted.

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley 4

Step 2:  Add chicken broth and salt and bring this pot to a boil.  Then reduce heat, place a lid on top, and simmer until the couscous has absorbed all of the water (just like you make rice).

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley 5

Step 3:  Stir in parsley, pine nuts and lemon zest.

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley 6

Step 4:  The brave souls who trust me will add in the golden raisins.  Seriously, that’s what makes this side dish unique and delicious!

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley -

I guess the dramatic close-up photo did turn out a pretty impressive-looking dish, wouldn’t you agree?  We served this for dinner last night alongside smoked sausage and steamed asparagus.  It would also be a great side to chicken or fish.  My kiddo told me to nix the pine nuts next time, but I told him NO WAY (my husband and I enjoyed all of the little bits and pieces that made up this dish).  Kids are too darn picky!

Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 10 min


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (see *Tips below)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 to 1/3 cup golden raisins


1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until golden. Add couscous, cinnamon stick and bay leaf, and stir often until the couscous browns slightly. Add the broth and the salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender (about 10 minutes or so).

2. Remove the pan from heat and stir in parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest and raisins.


*To toast the pine nuts, heat a skillet to medium. Add the pine nuts to the pan and stir often until they begin to turn golden. Remove the pine nuts to a bowl or a paper towel to cool.

Source: (adapted from the back of Trader Joe's Israeli Couscous box)

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  • Lise Lacroix wrote:

    I made this for Easter dinner as a side dish.  It was really easy and super delicious!!  Thanks!

  • Betty wrote:

    Lori Lange, thank you for sharing this recipe.  It is one of the best couscous dishes that my husband and I have ever tasted.  It is phenomenal!

  • Sarah wrote:

    I love anything w/Israeli couscous! I love that you added lemon zest for brightness. I’ll add that next time. The nice thing is you can add whatever herbs are in your fridge like basil, mint, or cilantro. I’m with you on the toasted pine nuts. Worth the extra effort to toast them.

  • C wrote:

    This is pretty much a copy of the recipe that comes in the box. Do you have suggestions on how to make it different or spice it up?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I don’t remember what the exact recipe on the package was, but I believe I changed things up a bit.

  • Felicia wrote:

    Made this as a side dish to chicken last night – OUTSTANDING! I am more than NOT a raisin fan…I detest them! But…I was brave and added a handful. Very impressed! Hubby really enjoyed it too! I love citrus and added extra lemon zest – YUM! We have quite a few members in our church that are vegetarians/vegans, or have gluten allergies. This will make a great potluck dish by simply changing the chicken broth to vegetable broth! Thanks for adding a new side dish to our meals!

  • wrote:

    This is such a nice recipe!

  • Nutmeg Nanny wrote:

    Oh, this looks great! I love couscous and pine nuts 🙂

  • ashley – baker by nature wrote:

    I just picked up a box of israeli couscous from T Joe’s last night! Destiny!!!