Israeli Couscous with Spinach

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Toasted pearl couscous with spinach, chicken, raisins, pine nuts, and a hint of lemon makes a light, warm, salad-like dish. (And it gets bonus points for being absolutely delicious when the leftovers are served cold the next day for lunch!)

couscous, spinach, and chicken in stainless skillet with spoon

Spinach with Couscous

Couscous is pasta that is more rehydrated than cooked when you are making it. As a result, it “cooks” quickly for an easy tasty dish.

Couscous looks and cooks very similar to grains like rice and barley but it’s actually pasta! If you’ve only ever had traditional couscous, the itty bitty pieces that have a powdery texture, you might be surprised by Pearl Couscous.

This type of couscous (also called Israeli Couscous) is little round balls of pasta. Pearl Couscous is slightly chewy, a little bit nutty, has a satisfying bite, and tastes absolutely nothing like traditional couscous.

couscous and spinach in skillet

The spinach in this dish is just slightly wilted as I add it at the end giving it the look and taste of a warm salad, perfect for this fall weather we have been having.

The chicken is optional here, but I almost always add it for an awesome lunch. Anytime we’re grilling or roasting chicken, I like to make extra for this type of easy recipe. A rotisserie chicken from the grocery store will also work nicely here.

The spritz of lemon juice brightens a dish like this. It might seem odd to add lemon to something savory but the little something extra it brings is just right. It is hard to describe the freshness it adds at the end of cooking right before serving.

Couscous is popular in Mediterranean cooking but it’s also a way to shake things up if you’re tired of the usual rice and pasta side dishes. It goes so well in salads and stir-fries and is super easy to cook.

Pearl Couscous with spinach, nuts, and raisins on small plate

How to Cook Israeli Couscous

Couscous gets much of its flavor by toasting it in oil or butter in a pan prior to cooking it in water or broth. In this recipe, the dried couscous is added to a pan with melted butter along with chopped onions and a cinnamon stick that adds a nice additional level of flavor.

Once brown and toasty, I add chicken broth to the couscous and simmer it all until the couscous is perfectly tender. Your couscous will be ready to enjoy in less than 10 minutes making it the ideal side dish for busy nights.

spinach and israeli couscous in large skillet with wooden spoon

Couscous with Chicken

  • olive oil
  • pine nuts
  • butter
  • onion
  • pearl couscous
  • cinnamon stick
  • chicken broth
  • raisins
  • Italian parsley 
  • fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt 
  • chopped baby spinach
  • chicken

Couscous with Spinach and Chicken

  1. Warm the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts to the skillet. Saute until toasted and fragrant. Remove from the skillet to a plate or small dish.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet and then add the onion, couscous, and cinnamon stick. Cook, while stirring frequently, until browned.
  3. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the couscous is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the raisins, toasted nuts, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Taste and salt as needed.
  4. Add the spinach and stir to wilt. Add chicken, if desired. Serve warm or chilled.
couscous and spinach in skillet

Pasta and Vegetables

Combining rice or pasta with vegetables and a simple sauce results in some of my favorite sides and are easily turned into main dishes with or without the addition of a protein.

Savory pine nuts and pistachios coupled with sweet raisins and flavorful mediterranean herbs and spices make this simple Israeli Couscous recipe stand out. It’s so much better than just about any other couscous recipe I’ve tried.

Spinach rice is a simple savory side complemented with onion, garlic, and a hint of lemon and parmesan cheese.

Sweet bell peppers and juicy tomatoes are tossed with angel hair pasta and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese in this flavorful Bell Pepper Pasta.

spinach and israeli couscous in large skillet with wooden spoon

Spinach with Couscous

Toasty couscous pearls with spinach, chicken with raisins, pine nuts, and a hint of lemon make a light yet warm, salad-like dish.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ medium onion very thinly sliced
  • 2 cups pearl couscous
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach about 2 ounces worth
  • 2 cups cooked chicken sliced thin or chopped OPTIONAL

Instructions

  • Warm the oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the pine nuts to the skillet. Saute until toasted and fragrant. Remove from the skillet to a plate or small dish.
  • Melt the butter in the skillet and then add the onion, couscous, and cinnamon stick. Cook, while stirring frequently, until browned.
  • Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the couscous is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the raisins, toasted nuts, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Taste and salt as needed.
  • Add the spinach and stir to wilt. Add chicken, if desired. Serve warm or chilled.

Notes

Use caution when salting the final dish. Most store-bought chicken broth will provide enough salt that you won’t need to add much salt at all. If you are using homemade chicken broth, be sure to use enough salt to bring out the flavors.

Nutrition

Calories: 337kcal · Carbohydrates: 52g · Protein: 9g · Fat: 11g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g · Monounsaturated Fat: 4g · Trans Fat: 0.2g · Cholesterol: 12mg · Sodium: 596mg · Potassium: 229mg · Fiber: 4g · Sugar: 1g · Vitamin A: 333IU · Vitamin C: 5mg · Calcium: 33mg · Iron: 1mg
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pearl couscous with spinach in skillet

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