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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  • dena @ohyoucook wrote:

    I made your recipe with just a couple of tweaks … using veggie broth (to make it kosher) and adding feta cheese. My own “kiddo” (who is in college) didn’t like the pine nuts either.

  • Pinch Of Lime wrote:

    I’m not a fan of regular couscous but the Israeli version looks very interesting! Might have to give it a try.

  • Kiran @ wrote:

    Yummy! I love the lemony and cinnamony flavors in the dish!

  • Carla @ Carlas Confections wrote:

    Yes this side dish is definitely drool worthy!!! Yum!

  • Joanne wrote:

    I don’t make (or blog about) enough side dishes either! Definitely something to work on. I love the mix of sweet with the raisins in this. So fun in every bite!

  • Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking wrote:

    This looks wonderful, Lori! I would love to try it some summer night, and alongside a grilled meat I bet it would be fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  • Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen wrote:

    Beautiful side dish, Lori! Love golden raisins and toasted pine nuts…always elevates dishes. Impressive food photography, too…very drool worthy! Pinned to group boards! xo

  • kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts wrote:

    Looks delicious and I am a brave soul–I love finding golden raisins in unusual . . . well I was going to say places, but that would put this comment in a different direction than I intend, so I will say dishes instead.

    This side dish looks great, and if my parsley plants ever survive the marauding varmits that are nibbling them down, I’ll have plenty to play with after my next trip to TJs.

    Thanks, Lori!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      ha! And I’m with you on the varmints… I have those too!

  • Giuliana wrote:

    Questo piatto è fantastico, complimenti!!!!!

  • Diane G. wrote:

    I make Israeli couscous often as a side dish. I like to add dried cranberries and diced scallions. Same idea as your recipe, just different colors.

  • marcie@flavor the moments wrote:

    This is plenty drool-worthy for me! I love these flavors, and toasted pine nuts are just perfect for that toasty, crunch. This is great for a nice change of pace!

  • Mari @ Mari’s Cakes wrote:

    The Israeli, pearl couscous is totally new to me. It looks very appetizing with pine nuts and raisins. Thanks Lori for sharing the recipe.

    Have an awesome week.

  • Susan P wrote:

    This looks so good….it’s going to be our side dish tonight!

  • Tina Verrelli @epicuricloud wrote:

    Lori, this looks delicious!! I happen to have a box of Israeli couscous in my pantry and would love to make this!! I am famous for burning my pine nuts in the oven. Maybe this time I will try toasting them in a pan! Thanks for the recipe!!

  • Nancy Long wrote:

    I love couscous, but haven’t tried the Israeli type yet – this will be on the menu within the week – trying to keep hubby from eating up all the pine nuts until then! lol

  • Liz @ Virtually Homemade wrote:

    Looks simple, delicious and very middle eastern. I would also maybe throw in a bit of crumbled feta. Would be a nice off set to the sweet raisins.

  • Deborah wrote:

    I am so horrible at making side dishes, so I’m always looking for new ideas. I adore this!!

  • Jen @ Savory Simple wrote:

    Anything wine pine nuts automatically wins my heart.

  • Winnie wrote:

    As an Israeli I say you have a wonderful salad here 🙂

  • Tieghan wrote:

    I too don’t have that many side dishes on my site. I think I just like to create a good meal for my readers. You know?

    Anyway this looks awesome! I love israeli couscous and pine nuts!! Perfect light summer side!