Israeli Couscous with Beetroot

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By Published On: July 23rd, 2021

For the most vibrant, flavour-packed couscous, beetroot is the perfect addition. A pink hue permeates the soft pearl couscous and leaves us with not only a visual feast but an earthy, sweet taste to boot. This is one of the most delicious couscous dishes ever!

Israeli Couscous with Beetroot on a plate, scattered with micro greens and nuts.

Beetroot pairs wonderfully with couscous, imparting its unique colour and flavour. It's a versatile offering and pairs with so many other dishes. I generally serve it as a side dish along with other Mediterranean-style salads and often to accompany baked fish or skewered chicken. It brings so much personality to the table – a wonderfully sweet and savoury earthiness. The great news is that it's a very easy dish to put together at home, and guaranteed to garner a small ripple of applause at any dinner table.

What's the deal with Israeli couscous?

Israeli couscous is in fact not couscous! It's a relatively new invention from the 1950s - created when rice was scarce in Israel due to the Austerity period of the 40s and 50s. Israeli couscous or pearl couscous is in fact a simple pasta, much like Italian Fregola or Middle Eastern Maftoul. It takes its inspiration from Moroccan couscous but is much larger in size.

Typically created using semolina flour and formed into small balls that swell when cooked into 'pearls'. They have a wonderful nutty flavour and a slightly chewy texture - they're great carriers of flavour and sauces, which is why they're often used to bulk out soups, stews and salads.

A jar spilling Israeli couscous

Stuff you'll need

There's not a lot to this recipe - there are a few ingredients to ensure the magic happens... (there's a full recipe below).

  • Israeli Couscous - sometimes called Pearl couscous
  • Fresh beets (beetroot)
  • Spices - cumin & coriander brings a little more earthiness to the dish and pair wonderfully with beetroot.
  • Acid - lemon juice livens up the dish and gives a fresh finish
  • Nuts & greenery - crunchy nuts add another texture to the dish and a little herb or salad greenery adds some freshness and flavour.

Step by Step

There are a few simple steps involved in making this pink couscous come to life

  1. Roast the beetroot - roasting leaves us with an intense flavour and colour (boiling drains the flavour and colour out, so I always roast my beets). I then coarsely grate them and leave to cool.
  2. Cook the couscous - read the packet instructions and you'll be good to go.
  3. Combine everything.
  4. Garnish and you're ready to go...

Any tips or substitutions?

You can make this with yellow beet too for a golden version. Try changing up the nuts; pistachios work well, walnuts or pecans too. I'll often use whatever herbs I have on hand, this recipe used micro salad greens, and I'll sometimes use dill, parsley, mint, oregano, tarragon or basil.

One other thing I'll often add to add even more flavour is cheese. Feta works amazingly well, as does goats cheese - Crumble 1/2 cup or so over the finished dish.

Israeli Couscous with Beetroot on a plate, scattered with micro greens and nuts.

How to make Israeli Couscous with Beetroot

Israeli Couscous with Beetroot on a plate, scattered with micro greens and nuts.

Beetroot Couscous

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Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Cooling time30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 45 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 8
Calories (per serving) | 286

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC
    Stab each beetroot with a sharp knife, then wrap individually in foil. Place on a baking sheet or roasting tin and bake for 60-70 minutes until a knife runs smoothly through the flesh. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, using a little olive oil, fry the almonds and pine nuts for 1-2 minutes until they turn a golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • Once the beetroot are cooked, using kitchen gloves, slide off the skins and roots (they should all come away very easily) and discard. Cover and leave the beets to cool completely.
  • Cook the couscous to the packet instructions, drain and stir in the butter and oil to avoid sticking (switch out the butter for more olive oil if you're vegan).
    Using a coarse grater, grate the beetroot then add to the couscous along with the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir well, so that all the couscous takes on the vibrant pink from the beetroot.
  • Leave to cool to room temperature then arrange on a platter or in a large bowl. Scatter over the nuts then sprinkle over the micro greens or herbs just before serving.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Beetroot Couscous
Amount Per Serving
Calories 286 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 332mg14%
Potassium 247mg7%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 61IU1%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Calcium 33mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course | Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine | Israeli, Mediterranean
Keyword | Couscous, Israeli Couscous, Pasta, Pearl Couscous
Israeli Couscous with Beetroot on a plate, scattered with micro greens and nuts.

Did you make my Israeli Couscous with Beetroot

How did you go? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to tag @cookeatinsta at Instagram.

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