Recipe: Pearl couscous cheesy bake with chicken & salami

by April@MyFoodTrail on October 11, 2009

in Cooking, Other, Recipes, Sides

When I saw the recipe for pearl couscous on Belle from Ooh Look’s blog, I commented that I was intrigued as to what they would taste like and thanks to Liz from Haystac, I received a sample to try.

Pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous) is different from normal couscous, being much larger in size and made from hard wheat toasted in an open flame. As it is low GI with no additives or preservatives, it is a great healthy alternative to rice and potatoes. It is available to purchase at selected Coles store nation wide (for between $3 – $4).

The sample came with a variety of recipes to try but none of them really appealed to me so I sort of adapted one of them. I’m not particularly fond of normal couscous but the texture of the pearl couscous looked so interesting, I was excited to try it.

You may have noticed I hardly post any savoury recipes, partly because I don’t follow exact measurements most of the time and also the ingredients you add or leave out is according to personal preference. In this recipe, you could use chicken breast instead of thighs, bacon instead of salami, fresh vegetables instead of frozen, less or more onions, garlic and cheese and it would all change your end result. Anyway, below is the exact way I made it – change the ingredients around at your own peril! 🙂

Pearl couscous cheesy bake with chicken & salami
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
250g Gourmet Pearl Couscous
2 ½ cups (750ml) water
½ cup frozen vegetables (peas, corn and carrots)
2 chicken thigh fillets, approx. 270g, cut into bite sized pieces
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
50g salami, approx 6 slices, finely sliced
550g jar of tomato pasta sauce (I used Dolmio Traditional Extra Garlic)
2 ½ cups grated cheese
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

Method
1. Soak frozen vegetables in just boiled water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

2. Season chicken with garlic salt, sugar and 1 tablespoon tomato sauce in a bowl and set aside.

3. Fry sliced salami in oil for a minute or two until the white parts are no longer visible. Remove salami leaving the oil in the pan and set aside.

4. Add onion and garlic to pan and fry until softened. Add seasoned chicken and fry until chicken is cooked through.

5. Add pasta sauce and leave to simmer while you cook the pearl couscous.

6. Preheat oven to 200C (180 fan-forced).

7. In another saucepan, bring 2 ½ cups of water to the boil. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir in the couscous. Bring to a simmer, cover with lid and cook until water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

8. Stir through chicken and pasta sauce mixture and mix well. Add in ½ cup cheese, vegetables and salami.

9. Transfer to a baking dish (mine was 20 x 25cm) and sprinkle remaining cheese on top, followed by breadcrumbs.

10. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and top is golden brown.

Results: The texture of the pearl couscous is amazing and so unusual! Hubby and I both love it! The small balls still remain al dente without being too hard or too chewy. This was a great way to cook the pearl couscous – kind of like a pasta bake but with pearl couscous instead of pasta! The tomato based sauce was so tasty with the chicken and salami. I had some leftovers for lunch the next day and it tasted even better as the couscous had more of a chance to absorb the sauce without going soft.

It was be great as an entrée or side dish, or for lunch, but I think it needs something else to be a main meal at dinner time.

Would I make it again? Definitely, I’ll be making it at the next family dinner so they can try this too.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Divina Pe October 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm

That looks really good. Something delicious and yummy and also creative.

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Sarah October 11, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Looks good! Salami and the large couscous, great way to combine the samples! 😀 (I have almost finished eating the salami plain hahaha)

xox Sarah

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Maria@TheGourmetChallenge October 11, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Love the crunchy top! Any type of bake HAS to have a crunchy top. looks good!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef October 12, 2009 at 1:08 am

Really interesting and delicious use for the couscous!

I have to agree with Maria – the crunchy top looks awesome and is totally necessary. Love that "top-cheese" as I call it 😉

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Stephcookie October 12, 2009 at 8:42 am

Yum, love the look of that cheesy crust. Totally going to try this since I have a huge bag of pearl couscous leftover! Great recipe!

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penny aka jeroxie October 12, 2009 at 9:25 am

This looks great and super yummy. I have a packet at home that I bought from Vic Market. Was going to make a nice cous cous salad with it but this looks great too!

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cruxiefaye October 12, 2009 at 10:01 am

looks good! unfortunately after a brief experience with buying couscous from nandos, I really dislike it. maybe i should just overcome it?

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Iron Chef Shellie October 12, 2009 at 11:35 am

Looks amazing babe!
I might have to try hunting some of this stuff down myself. A friend had this "giant" cous cous at Lezzet in Elsternwick.

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Sarah October 12, 2009 at 11:52 am

wow – how good does that look! I have been so curious about those pearl cous cous for so long! I am currently trying to figure out how to gluten-free it!

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Betty @ The Hungry Girl October 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Ooh this looks great. I've been wanting to try pearl couscous since seeing it on a few blogs. Looks like a great recipe! Really want to try some now!

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Ange October 12, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Looks good, I have some samples I'm working my way through too. I made the one with peas & parmesan & it was really really good.

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Rilsta October 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

Hi Divina: It tasted really good too! 🙂

Hi Sarah: Haha, yes I was looking to use the salami up too! I can't eat it plain – I need something to go with it!

Hi Maria: Yeah! The whole point of putting something in the oven is to get the crunchy top!

Hi Conor: I love pasta bakes so was interested in trying out the couscous. Luckily the texture held up!

Hi Stephcookie: Try out this recipe – it's a delicious way to use the pearl couscous!

Hi Penny: I think a pearl couscous salad will be interesting. The texture is very different from the normal smaller couscous.

Hi Cruxiefaye: This couscous is different from the one at Nando's for sure! I don't like normal couscous but this pearl couscous in a cheesy bake is yum!

Hi Shellie: You can find it in Coles next to the normal couscous. You have to try it!

Hi Sarah: Not sure if these would be gluten free as it is made from wheat!

Hi Betty: You have to try it – I'm sure you'll love it!

Hi Ange: Might have to try the peas & parmesan recipe too then!

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Cherry Blossom Cupcakes October 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

That looks seriously yummy! Great family dinner, I'll have to give it a go!

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Trisha October 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Hmmm I'm waiting for my own pearl couscous and I can't wait!! 🙂

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OohLookBel October 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Oh yum, I'm glad my other half didn't see this recipe or he'd be asking why I didn't make it too (he loves cheese and bacon)! The pearl couscous is great, isn't it? And *thanks* for the shout out.

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella October 13, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Yum! That looks packed full of flavour. I prefer the larger couscous grains to the regular ones too 🙂

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Rilsta October 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Hi Cherry Blossom Cupcakes: It was really yummy! I'm sure it will be hit with everyone!

Hi Trisha: Ooh, I'll be waiting to see what you do with it!

Hi Belle: Hehe, I'm sure what you did with it would have tasted fantastic too! No worries abt the shout out! 🙂

Hi Lorraine: Yeah, how good is the texture of the big ones?!

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