Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemon is a bright, lemony, pasta side-dish full of crunchy pistachios, bits of dried fruity apricots and cranberries, fresh parsley and the star of the show – preserved lemons. And a bonus, Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemon is easy and only takes 15 minutes to prepare!
What is Couscous?
In case you are not familiar with this pantry staple, couscous is a type of pasta made with semolina flour. Couscous comes in two different sizes: Pearl or Israeli Couscous, which is the largest; and Moroccan Couscous, which is about three times the size of a grain of cornmeal.
Couscous vs Rice or Quinoa?
Couscous, like all pasta, has a mild flavor and is most like orzo pasta. Because of its mild flavor, you can also substitute rice, or quinoa both of which are grains for most recipes calling for couscous and vice versa.
How to Cook Couscous?
Couscous is prepared by adding it to boiling water with a little salt added, and then cooking it for 8-10 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.
How Many Calories and Carbohydrates does Couscous Have?
One-third cup of uncooked-dry couscous has 190 calories, and 40 grams of carbohydrates.
The other star of this dish is preserved lemon. If you have never used preserved lemons in your cooking, you are in for a treat. Think about the wonderful flavor that lemon or citrus zest brings to a dish and multiply it by 100! Preserved lemons bring out their lemony essence, and you can use them in almost any recipe in which you would be adding lemon zest or juice to heighten and brighten the flavor.
What’s a substitute for Preserved Lemon?
According to Chowhound, “You can thinly slice a fresh lemon and then sauté it over low heat with little olive oil, a few pinches of salt and sugar until the rinds are very soft. Cool slightly and then chop.”
How to make Preserved Lemon
You can buy preserved lemons in specialty food shops, and you can order them online. Or, you can make them yourself by soaking them in a brine of salt and lemon juice for 30 days. It’s really easy and if you would like to make them, check out my post: How to Make Preserved Lemons.
I was very fortunate this year to have several friends with Meyer Lemon Trees who gave me lemons, which I used to make my preserved lemons. It’s a crucial ingredient in this robust side dish, Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemons.
How to prepare Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemon.
When you are ready to prepare Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemon, gather your ingredients and cook the couscous according to the directions on the package.
While the couscous is cooking, wash each piece of lemon to remove the salty brine. Then scoop out the pulp and chop up the skin.
Add the chopped lemon to a large bowl along with the parsley, butter, chopped apricots, cranberries, pistachios, pepper, and cinnamon.
When the couscous is done, drain if necessary, and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well. Can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.
I served this flavorful side dish with Herb Crusted Roasted Pork Tenderloin, and the entire meal was on the table in under 30 minutes. Other quick entrees that pair well with it include Easy Ten Minute Roasted Shrimp or Quick and Easy Pesto Chicken.
This dish is very versatile. You can substitute orzo pasta or Moroccan couscous for the Pearl or Israeli couscous. You can also substitute almost any type of grain like rice, quinoa or barley for the couscous. You can also substitute roasted pine nuts, pecans, almonds, etc. for the pistachios and you can substitute any dried fruit or combination of dried fruits for the dried apricots and cranberries.
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Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemon
- 1 preserved lemon Rinse each piece of lemon to remove the salty brine. Then scoop out the pulp and chop up the skin.
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dried apricots chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pistachios*
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1-1/4 cup Pearl or Israeli Couscous
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Cook the couscous according to the directions on the package.
- While the couscous is cooking, finely mince the preserved lemon peel and pulp. Add the lemon to a large bowl along with the parsley, butter, chopped apricots, cranberries, pistachios, pepper, and cinnamon.
- When the couscous is done, drain it if necessary and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients, mix well. Can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.
- If you have leftovers, store covered in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- You can substitute orzo pasta or Moroccan couscous for the Pearl or Israeli couscous. You can also substitute almost any type of grain like rice, quinoa or barley for the couscous.
- You can also substitute roasted pine nuts, pecans, slivered almonds, etc. for the pistachios.
- You can substitute any dried fruit or combination of dried fruits like raisins, pineapple or cherries for the dried apricots and cranberries.
- If you are looking for a substitute for preserved lemon, according to Chowhound, "You can thinly slice a fresh lemon and then sauté it over low heat with little olive oil, a few pinches of salt and sugar until the rinds are very soft. Cool slightly and then chop."