Israeli Couscous with Roasted Lemons & Capers topped with Seared Scallops & a Lemon Creme Fraiche Drizzle

By • January 7, 2010 39 Comments

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Author Notes: Israeli Couscous has always been my go to dish when I want a quick delicious dinner. This is one of my favorite variations. The couscous is flavored with a roasted lemon and both capers and caper berries. The roasted lemon was inspired by a Lydia Bastianich chicken recipe I saw in Food & Wine a few years ago. To make it a full meal, I top the couscous with seared scallops but it is delicious with any seafood or chicken. It is also great as a base for my Pan Roasted Branzino with Avgolemono Sauce (see my recipes). - melissavmelissav

Food52 Review: Many scallop recipes aim to underline their rich sweetness. Not here. Instead, melissav emphasizes scallops' briney flavors by pairing them with a couscous scented with roasted lemons, capers and caper berries, and a sauce that's bright with both lemon zest and juice. The dish is wonderful, admirably stern with its lashings of acidity and yet generous with the warm flavors of toasted couscous and creme fraiche. Serve this for a dinner party. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 2


  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1.25 cups israeli couscous
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 5 caper berries, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the lemon very thinly. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast the lemons until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Watch carefully at the end as you don't want the lemons to burn.
  4. Remove from the oven, let cool, and chop. I find it is easiest to do this using scissors - just snip in small pieces. Set aside.
  5. Saute the onion in a saucepan over medium high heat until lightly golden. Season lightly with salt and pepper
  6. Add couscous and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.
  7. Add 2 cups chicken broth, the lemon pieces, and capers. Bring to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. About two minutes before it is done, add the caper berries.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in parsley.

Scallops and Lemon Creme Fraiche Drizzle

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice (about 2-3TB)
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 scallops (preferably dry scallops, not in any preservatives)
  1. saute the shallots in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated.
  3. Add the broth and reduce for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice and zest and the creme fraiche.
  5. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Sear the scallops over high heat in a bit of olive oil until golden, about 1.5 minutes per side.
  7. Put a scoop of couscous in a shallow bowl. Top with the scallops and drizzle with the sauce.

More Great Recipes: Scallops|Fish & Seafood|Rice & Grains|Entrees|Side Dishes

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Comments (39) Questions (4)


15 days ago Ian Lo

Amazing dish! A busy recipe, but still manageable for a complete amateur like me. Definitely a treat-yourself kind of dinner.


over 1 year ago juliunruly

FYI in case anyone was curious, this works wonderfully with quinoa instead of the cous cous.


almost 2 years ago juliunruly

I love this dish. I've made it as written twice before, and also made just the cous cous and sauce (no scallops) as a side for other meals. For example, I served the cous cous and sauce tonight alongside some harissa-rubbed goat patties, and the harissa carrot salad, also from this site. It worked beautifully. This is a slightly "involved" dish, but so worth it.


almost 2 years ago Susan Mandel Giblin

What about using preserved lemons? I want to use this recipe for a large party I am doing


over 1 year ago juliunruly

I used preserved meyer lemons and it worked great. However, since mine are very salty, I did not add ANY salt to the dish until tasting it post-lemon addition.


about 2 years ago Daniel James

I found actually overcooking the lemon so that they caramelized removed the bitterness and brought out a lovely sweet sharpness. Great recipe


about 2 years ago aimeebama

I tasted the roasted lemon before adding them into the couscous to be sure, and they weren't bitter at all. I used regular super-market lemon. Maybe it's really key not to overcook them? Meal was delicious.


over 2 years ago sjaneparker

I found the lemon rind to be extremely bitter and ended up picking through the couscous to remove it. Perhaps it was the kind of lemon I used (not Meyer), although I was very careful about slicing it paper thin. If I made the recipe again I would use preserved lemon instead.


over 2 years ago QueenOfGreen

Tried this last night, but my lemons were evidently of the extremely bitter variety. Loved the idea of the recipe, and will try again either with Meyer lemons or maybe with just juice and zest and no roasting. Thanks, melissav!


over 2 years ago Karen P. Dabbour

Why is it called Israeli couscous? Maftoul a Middle Eastern Couscous has been around a lot longer than Israel has!!!!!! Just asking??????


over 2 years ago goldengirl72

This dish was wonderful! I especially like the sauce. We had some fresh spinach and sun dried tomatoes which needed to be used so we included them while the couscous was cooking. Who needs to go out when you have a great recipe like this? Yummy!


over 2 years ago Rupal P

Tried this the other day, had to omit the caper berries bc we did not have any, and the lemon rind did make the dish very bitter for me at first, so I cut the bitterness by adding a tablespoon of honey to the couscous and another dash of honey to the sauce, which I made with some half and half since we had no creme fraiche on hand. Overall the dish was a hit; it was really important to have the marriage of all the components! Also, I made sure not to undersalt the couscous!


over 2 years ago Gluttonforacause

The scallops turned out well and the lemon-creme fraiche reduction was both rich and refreshing. However, I agree with Selena's comment re the lemon rinds. I found them extremely bitter, and would probably omit them next time in favor of lemon zest or juice.


over 2 years ago selena

scallops and lemons sauce was a thumbs up. Couscous was dull and no one liked eating the lemon rinds.


almost 3 years ago MaureenOnTheCape

I was seeking something unusual for our abundant scallops on Cape Cod and this was perfect! I'll remember the super lemony couscous recipe for things other than scallops. It's incredible. Also, if you are in southern New England, the quirky Ocean State Job Lot sells imported caper berries by the 13 oz jar for $2.00, so stock up. :) Thank you mgherghei for this creative and lovely dish.


over 3 years ago mgherghei

Made this recipe tonight - added fresh spinach to the couscous - best meal I have had in a while! The lemon sauce makes this dish amazing!


over 4 years ago adamnsvetcooking

I made this recipe for a surprise dinner! It was my 1st time cooking scallops too! We really really love the dish. I like how the lemon ties the dishes together. I will be making this again very soon, probably again this week! Thank you for a wonderful recipe!


over 4 years ago STEsker

The couscous and the drizzle sauce were terrific complements to the scallops. My husband and I liked how the flavor of the scallop wasn't lost when paired with such powerful ingredients, like the caperberries and capers. Thank you!


over 4 years ago melissav

Just now saw this. So glad you enjoyed the dish. Thanks for the feedback.


over 5 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Made this tonight for dinner. It was just wonderful!! Really loved in particular the roasted lemon bits mixed into the couscous with the capers and caperberries. I'm going to look at other recipes for doing that. And the lemon creme fraiche drizzle was perfect! Thanks-


over 5 years ago melissav

Hi Suzanne - I'm so glad you enjoyed the dish. I got the idea for the roasted lemon here -- http://www.foodandwine.... This is a pretty good recipe for boneless skinless chicken breasts as they stay nice and moist.


over 5 years ago Oui, Chef

Roasted lemon and capers....YUM! Congratulations on a well done dish.


over 5 years ago melissav

Thanks Oui Chef! Glad to see you're back and posting recipes!


over 5 years ago mariaraynal

Wonderful ingredients and recipe. Congrats!


over 5 years ago melissav

Thank you. I just made your broccoli on Monday (again) and it is such a great dish!