This Israeli couscous recipe is inspired by my family’s favorite white wine pasta. In this recipe, chicken sausage and feta cheese add fantastic flavor to the easy sauce.
When you need a quick weeknight dinner idea, grab a hold of an Israeli couscous recipe! Israeli couscous, otherwise known as pearl couscous, cooks quickly and has a neutral – though slightly nutty – flavor, which means it can soak up the flavors of a simple sauce.
“White wine pasta” is a favorite around here. In fact, it’s the dish most often requested by my eldest son. Which is fine by me because it’s not only delicious (hello, garlic and wine!), but the sauce itself takes less than 5 minutes to make.
In this recipe, I paired the Israeli couscous and white wine sauce with pre-cooked chicken sausages, creamy feta cheese, kalamata olives and a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach leaves. Serve it “as is” or with a salad on the side for an extra dose of veggies.
What you need for this Israeli couscous recipe:
These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links included):
- Israeli couscous: Israeli couscous is sometimes sold as “pearl couscous”. It’s available in many grocery stores, specialty Mediterranean-focused specialty stores and online. I use the Trader Joe’s brand.
- Sausage: Precooked chicken sausages are fantastic for easy dinner prep. Look for sweet or spicy Italian sausage to use in this recipe.
- Wine: Dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot gris (or pino grigio), is the best for white wine sauces. You don’t have to purchase a really expensive wine, but choose something you would drink on its own. It needs to taste good if you’re adding it to your food!
- Feta cheese: Crumbled feta cheese adds just the right amount of salt and tang. Feta can be purchased pre-crumbled or in a block.
- Spinach: There’s no need to chop the spinach. When you add the whole leaves to the warm couscous, it wilts in a minute or two.
- Olives: Nothing pairs better with feta than kalamata olives. Buy pitted olives and cut them into quarters.
Tips for making this pearl couscous recipe:
- It’s easy make this recipe in under 30 minutes if you cook the sausage and prepare the sauce while the couscous cooks.
- The white wine sauce is a breeze to make. Simply simmer the wine with a little sauteed garlic and red pepper flakes. Burned garlic turns bitter, so take care not to overcook it before adding the wine. Thirty seconds is all it needs.
- Browning the sausage will leave behind some browned bits. DO NOT, wipe these out of the pan before making the wine sauce. Those little bits add a ton of flavor.
- As the wine simmers, scrape up the browned sausage bits from the bottom of the skillet – otherwise known as deglazing the pan.
- Once the sauce is ready, stir in the cooked Israeli couscous, brown sausage, feta, olives, spinach and parsley. Stir everything together just until the spinach starts to wilt.
Frequently asked questions:
What is Israeli couscous?
Israeli couscous is actually a type of pasta that’s made from semolina flour and water. It’s also known as pearl couscous, ptitim or giant couscous.
While regular couscous and Israeli couscous are made from the same ingredients, their size and texture are quite different. Regular couscous is significantly smaller. In comparison, Israeli couscous is formed into little round pasta balls with a slightly chewy texture.
It’s fantastic mixed with roasted or grilled vegetables, tossed with a simple white wine sauce or mixed with spinach and dressing for an easy salad.
How to cook Israeli couscous:
Start by toasting the couscous in a little olive oil. Stir constantly so that the couscous doesn’t burn.
Add the liquid (water or broth) and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. The directions on the Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous suggest cooking it for 12 minutes, but it usually takes 8 to 10 minutes on my stovetop. So, be sure to check the couscous partway through cooking to make sure it doesn’t overcook and stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
Fluff the couscous with a fork once it’s done cooking.
Other easy pasta recipes:
Israeli Couscous Recipe with Sausage & Feta
- 3 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 8 ounces (dry) Israeli couscous (about 1 2/3 cups)
- 2 cups water
- 3 links pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, cut into ½-inch thick semi-circles
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3/4 ounce pitted Kalamata olives quartered (about 6 olives)
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Add the Israeli couscous and cook, stirring constantly, until the couscous starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until the liquid is simmering, cover and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Fluff the Israeli couscous with a fork and set aside.
- While the couscous cooks, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with cooking spray and add the sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Do NOT wipe out the pan – the browned bits add flavor.
- Add the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the white wine. Cook at a rapid simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula or spoon.
- Stir in the cooked couscous until it’s coated with the wine sauce. Stir in the sausage, feta cheese, olives, spinach and parsley. Stir over the heat until the spinach is lightly wilted.
- Season to taste with salt. Serve.
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