Herbed Israeli Couscous Salad

You may not be familiar with Israeli Couscous but if it’s not a staple in your kitchen you will be sure to add it once you try this delicious salad. Along with being quite tasty it has a very interesting history……………

Ptitim (Hebrewפתיתים‎) is an Israeli toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls. Outside of Israel it is known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous.
“Ptitim” were invented during the austerity period in Israel, when rice was scarce, in order to provide for the needs of the Mizrahi immigrants, for whom rice was a dietary staple.[1] Israel’s first prime ministerDavid Ben-Gurion, asked Eugen Propper, one of the founders of the Osem food company, to quickly devise a wheat-based substitute to rice.[1] Consequently, it was nicknamed “Ben-Gurion’s Rice” by the people.[1]The company took up the challenge and developed ptitim, which is made of hard wheat flour and roasted in an oven.[1] The product was instantly a success, after which ptitim made in the shape of small, dense balls (which the company termed “couscous”) was added to the original rice-shaped ptitim.

                                                                                                      Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I always keep a bag or two of this fun pasta in my pantry. It used to be somewhat difficult to find in my area of the country but I’ve noticed recently that many larger grocers are carrying it. You can also pick it up at Trader Jo’s, Whole Foods and Fresh Market. It makes a lovely presentation in both hot side dishes and wonderful salads served at room temperature.

The minute I saw this beautiful looking salad this summer on Joy the Baker, a fun blog you’ll want to check out, I knew I’d have to try it! It is an extremely versatile salad, depending on what ingredients you have available and, as usual I made a few of my own adaptations. I added extra fresh herbs, tiny green peas and substituted my House Dressing for the olive oil and lemon juice in the original recipe. Have fun playing with this recipe, I’m sure you will come up with delicious variations that I would never even think of!


Herbed Israeli Couscous Salad

3 cups water
1 ½ cups dry Israeli Couscous

generous pinch of salt
1 ½ cups sliced snap peas
½ medium English cucumber, cut into chunks
1 ½ cups tiny frozen peas
½ cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
5 tablespoons House Dressing
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, bring three cups of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt, followed by Israeli couscous. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until couscous is just tender, with a slight bite, about 8 to 12 minutes.

2. Drain into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

3. Toss cooled couscous with the rest of the ingredients. Taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary. It’s that simple! ENJOY!
Adapted from Joy the Baker


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