Israeli Couscous with Peppers and Carmelized Onions

A flavorful mediterranean pasta-adjacent dish that steals the show as a side dish


  • About 15 minutes
  • 4 servings


  • 2 tbs good olive oil
  • 3 pinches of sea salt
  • 3 pinches of black pepper
  • 1 tbs of spicy harissa
  • 1 small red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 persian (Beit-Alpha) cucumbers, cut into half moons
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbs of lemon juice and zest
  • 1 cup of pearl cousous
  • 1 1/2 cups of water


  1. start a campfire and place a medium size heavy bottomed pot on hot coals.
  2. heat the olive oil for a minute, then add in the onion slices and harissa to fry until the onions develop fond on the bottom of the pot.
  3. once the onions and aromatics begin to meld and develop color, remove them and set aside. Add in the couscous and let it begin to toast until there is a variation of color in the individual pearls, about 3 minutes.
  4. add in the water, season with salt and pepper, and allow the water to boil with the lid on for about 10 minutes, stirring in between to prevent sticking and check for the water level.
  5. carefully lift the lid after 10 minutes and check for doneness. The pearls should be tender yet al dente, and the water should all be soaked up. Remove the pot from the campfire heat.
  6. to finish the dish, add back in the onions carmelized in harissa, bell pepper pieces, lemon, parsley, and cucumber. season to taste, and add another drizzle of good olive oil.


  • How is this recipe different than other couscous variations?
  • there are many variations of couscous throughout the Mediterranean, and many Israeli versions are eaten with tomato, mint, and basil. I find that the crunch and sweetness from bell peppers are more favorable to tomatoes, and they are better year round too. Grilled onions give a wonderful sweet umami flavor that compliments the freshness of the acid and herbiness.
    • fresh lemon : preserved lemon, red wine vinegar
    • parsley : mint, cilantro, basil
    • harissa : an alternative spicy chili paste like sriracha, sambal oleck, chili crisp, or gochujang

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