Pearl couscous is a wonderful salad couscous and quite different from what is normally found in restaurant dishes or alongside North African tagine dishes with meat. When cooked, t is more plump and chewy than it’s smaller semolina-derived counterpart. The word couscous is actually a Berber one that means well-rounded or rolled which is exactly what I think of what I take a look at it. It’s also quite popular in Sicilian cuisine, which must be why I love it so much…
This dish is light and perfect for a weeknight meal because it’s easy and quick to prepare and uses only two dishes- great for kitchen clean-up, although there is a bit of chopping to do so bring on the family and cook it together. To me, it’s almost like a salad in itself.
Pearl Couscous with Ground Veal, Almonds and Raisins
The veal can be substituted with lean ground lamb, beef, turkey or chicken and it would be just as light and delicious. Serve with salad greens or other lightly dressed vegetables on the side.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 pound ground veal
1 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fleshy ground black pepper, or to taste
3/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Lime wedges (optional)
2 cups pearl couscous, uncooked
Prepare couscous according to package directions, typically 1 and 1/4 cup water to every cup of uncooked couscous. Cooking times vary, but should take no more than 20 minutes. Drain and set aside, drizzling a bit of olive oil on top to prevent sticking.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the lamb and the garlic. Stir and cook until the meat has slightly browned then add the almonds and ground spices, including the salt and pepper.
Add the raisins and stir until they become slightly larger in size. Continue to cook for another ten minutes. Add the chopped fresh herbs and cover the pan.
Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes, adding a bit of water if necessary.
Remove lid and drizzle meat with olive oil. Set aside to cool.
Add the cooked couscous to the meat mixture and stir to combine well. Serve with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro.