Remember our silly blue alien caviar? The little blue bulbs of semolina bring the texture of tapioca or bubble tea to mind – the mouth-feel is so great! This recipe is a reminder about the fun little grain of pearl or Israeli couscous. It’s delicious warm, but we especially love it for pasta salads because when cold it holds its shape better than a lot of pasta varieties. This makes it ideal for covering in dressings and oils.
Making a couscous pasta salad is super simple, and the best part is that you probably have the ingredients in your fridge! Knowing the basic formula to throw together a pasta salad is a blessing when you want a cold lunch to pack for a few days in a week, for outdoor picnics, and just as a delicious side for any summer meal. Having a few key ingredients like pearl couscous in mind when planning a salad makes things so much easier!
Salad Combo Ideas
Mix it up with these combos. Start with the base of pearl couscous following the recipe below and add in your veggies, protein, fruit, crunch, and dressing!
grape tomatoes, quinoa, parsley, lemon juice, salt, olive oil, dash of ranch or vidalia onion dressing
cucumbers, chick peas, feta cheese, kalamata olives, vinaigrette dressing
black beans, bell peppers, corn, cilantro, tomatillo fruit salsa, olive oil, salt
dried cranberries, almonds, pomegranate seeds, gorgonzola or goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette
grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette
strawberries, spinach, roasted peanuts, dijon vinaigrette
roasted butternut squash, spinach, dried cranberries, walnuts, honey dijon vinaigrette
shrimp, asparagus, red peppers, onions, pesto
Cooking Pearl Couscous
For every cup of couscous, use 1 1/4 cup water. Bring couscous and water to a boil over medium heat and cover. Let simmer for 10 minutes until all the water is gone and the couscous texture is fluffy. For extra flavor, toast the couscous in the pot for two minutes in olive oil or coconut oil before adding water.
When cooked or raw, pearl couscous can also be perfect for sensory play bins. Fill a tub with the pearls and let them play like it’s a gooey sand. The pearls pack similarly to sand, so your child can pile up a castle with cups and tupperware molds. Use the Construction Utensils outside of mealtime to push and pile up the rubble! You can even add in some different food colors, just make sure that you rinse the couscous very well after adding color! You wouldn’t want multi-colored little hand prints all over!