Make Ahead

Pearl Couscous with Roasty Roots, Chickpeas, and Pepitas

December 20, 2012
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This couscous salad is tasty, balanced, and healthy. It travels incredibly well. (It's my answer to plane food!) It also relies on ingredients you likely already have in the pantry. Serve it for lunch, or as part of a picnic or potluck. —Cristina Sciarra

What You'll Need
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt, black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 4 ounces crumbly goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoons za'atar
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. Heat the oven to 425F.
  2. Peel the carrots and the sweet potatoes. Chop them up however you like, but I would cut them into small-ish pieces. (You want them bite-sized, so you can eat this traveling, without a knife.)
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Toss the sweet potato and carrot pieces with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and generously with sea salt and black pepper. Move the vegetables to the baking sheet, arranging them so they aren't too crowded. (You want them to roast and caramelize, not steam.) Move the baking sheet to the oven: roast for about 30 minutes, moving the vegetables around ever 10 minutes or so. They are done when blackened in spots, and cooked through.
  4. In a small pot, bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat; when the oil is warm, add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, until fragment, and then add the couscous. Toast the couscous for about 1 minute, and then add the hot stock. (Make sure the heat is on medium; if the heat is high enough to boil the stock, the couscous will overcook. You can also boil for 8 minutes, and then drain any excess stock.) Put the lid on the pot, and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid: there should only be a little liquid left in the pot. (If not, put the lid back on, and continue cooking for up to 5 minutes.) Then, cook for another 1-2 minutes with the lid off, until the liquid is largely dissolved. Take the pot off the heat. You can add a tiny bit of olive oil now if you like: it will help prevent the couscous from sticking together.
  6. Make the dressing: add the lemon juice and the Dijon mustard to a small bowl, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Use a fork, or the back of a spoon, to mix. Pour in the oil, and whisk to emulsify.
  7. Mince the red onion. Wash the can-goop off the chickpeas. Crumble the goat cheese.
  8. Now you can mix everything together, right in the couscous pot. Add the: sweet potatoes, carrots, dressing, red onion, chickpeas, goat cheese, za'atar, and pumpkin seeds to the couscous; stir. You can eat the salad warm, or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • madeleine
  • EmilyC
  • Anastasia Miller
    Anastasia Miller
  • mensaque
  • Cristina Sciarra
    Cristina Sciarra
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at

15 Reviews

eljay March 18, 2017
Delicious! My own preference was for higher ratio of veggies to couscous. I also used about 1/4 c. za'atar and toasted the pumpkin seeds. Perfection!
Green R. March 20, 2016
I am wondering if Farro would be another option instead of the couscous.
ghainskom November 20, 2015
Nice recipe. But then again, I love anything with sweet potatoes lol
madeleine October 5, 2015
LOVE this recipe! Was out of olive oil (ah! how does that happen?!) so I sub'd blood orange oil and its SO GOOD.
Jodydh March 17, 2014
Holy baby Jeebus this is good! The dressing is tasty and keeps everything moist, but doesn't overrride the flavor of the veggies. I used regular couscous rather than israeli, and it was delicious!
melissa W. January 12, 2014
Great flavors. I followed the directions to a T. However my couscous was more risotta like, a little on the mushy side. Any advice?
Cristina S. January 13, 2014
Just cook it a bit less next time. Perhaps your stovetop is a little different than mine!
madeleine October 5, 2015
Is Israeli couscous something you have to rinse like quinoa? Because I had this problem too, and I used a shorter cooking time...

Cristina S. October 5, 2015
Hi Madeline, I've updated the recipe! You don't have to rinse the couscous. It might be easier to simply boil for 8 minutes, and drain off any remaining stock.
EmilyC December 9, 2013
Hi Christina -- I made this over the weekend and we've been enjoying it every since! Great combination of flavors and textures. Like the previous poster, I like how it's flexible and open to improvisation. Thanks for the recipe.
Cristina S. December 9, 2013
Thanks, Emily! I like this recipe especially in the winter, when I am always rotating through root vegetables!
Anastasia M. November 24, 2013
This is a lovely recipe. I added in some extra roast veg (brussels sprouts and green beans) and also roasted the chick peas and the pumpkin seeds since I was serving the dish hot. The tangy dressing and the za'atar were a terrific combination. I can't wait to see what the leftovers taste like chilled, and I think this will be a flexible recipe for lots of combinations. Thanks so much for the post!
Cristina S. December 9, 2013
Thanks, Anastasia! I'm so glad you made it your own.
mensaque November 21, 2013
Would this still work if I where to use tapioca instead of the couscous pearls?
Cristina S. November 21, 2013
Honestly, I'm not sure. I have a feeling the taste and texture might be a bit odd, but if you have substituted tapioca for couscous in the past, no harm in giving it a go.