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.
You can’t beat the ease and flavor of a white wine sauce. It works just as well in Turkey Cutlets in White Wine Sauce as it does with couscous.
“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. This recipe always gets the thumbs-up from the whole family.
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’s to love about Israeli couscous recipes:
▪️ QUICK & EASY! Pearl couscous recipes gets bonus points as a last-minute recipe. It’s easy make this recipe in under 30 minutes if you cook the sausage and prepare the sauce while the couscous cooks.
▪️ VERSATILE: Main dish or perfect side dish. Vegetarian or meat-filled. Couscous is a great base for a variety of sauces, vegetables and protein additions.
This recipe gets its flavor from multiple places. The browned bits from the cooked sausage are incorporated into the garlicky white wine sauce. Feta cheese and Kalamata olives add just the right amount of tangy and briny flavors.
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Ingredients this Israeli couscous recipe:
- 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.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
PROTEIN: Substitute the sausage with shrimp or chicken. For a vegetarian meal, use chickpeas or white beans.
VEGETABLES: There are so many options here! Some of my favorites are caramelized onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, arugula and zucchini.
ADD NUTS: Toasted pine nuts, pistachios or almonds would add some nice crunch.
HERBS: Add additional fresh herbs, such as basil or fresh mint.
How to make this pearl couscous recipe:
BROWN THE COUSCOUS: TO add some toasty flavor, sauté the Israeli couscous in a little olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes.
SIMMER THE COUSCOUS: Add the water to the pan on bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat until the water is simmering. Cover the pan and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed. Check it partway through and give it a little stir to stop the couscous from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
COOK THE SAUSAGE: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. I like to use a large enameled cast iron skillet. Stir the sausage occasionally as it cooks, but not too often. Let it rest enough to form those lovely golden brown spots.
Cooking 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.
MAKE THE SAUCE: The white wine sauce is a breeze to make. Simply simmer the wine with a little sautéed 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.
As the wine simmers, scrape up the browned sausage bits from the bottom of the skillet – otherwise known as deglazing the pan.
COMBINE: 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 and Feta
- 3 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 8 ounces (dry) Israeli couscous (about 1 ⅔ 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
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¾ ounce pitted Kalamata olives quartered (about 6 olives)
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- ½ 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.
This post was originally published on February 2, 2021. Updated on October 10, 2022.
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