Fourth of July

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

January  7, 2010
6 Ratings
  • Serves 2
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). - melissav —melissav

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Couscous
  • 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
  • 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. Couscous
  2. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.
  3. Slice the lemon very thinly. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roast the lemons until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Watch carefully at the end as you don't want the lemons to burn.
  5. 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.
  6. Saute the onion in a saucepan over medium high heat until lightly golden. Season lightly with salt and pepper
  7. Add couscous and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in parsley.
  1. Scallops and Lemon Creme Fraiche Drizzle
  2. saute the shallots in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
  3. Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated.
  4. Add the broth and reduce for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the lemon juice and zest and the creme fraiche.
  6. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Sear the scallops over high heat in a bit of olive oil until golden, about 1.5 minutes per side.
  8. Put a scoop of couscous in a shallow bowl. Top with the scallops and drizzle with the sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jaxmccaff
  • Ezra Leventhal
    Ezra Leventhal
  • Ian Lo
    Ian Lo
  • juliunruly
  • Susan Mandel Giblin
    Susan Mandel Giblin

43 Reviews

Jaxmccaff February 6, 2022
Made this last night. After reading the reviews I zested the lemon before roasting so that I had less cooked skins and more fresh zest and it worked very well. The whole dish is delicious and well balanced. The lemon creme fraiche (I used greek yogurt instead of the creme) added a perfect freshness. I roasted some brocollini to go with it. Will make this again!
duckfat August 16, 2021
I just followed the scallops part as I had 2 hour simmered Romano beans for the side dish. This recipe cooked exactly to time and if you're worried about all that lemon juice, don't. It doesn't get much better than this. If I had it in a restaurant I would have been in seventh heaven. Having it just as good at home (and for a fraction of a resto cost) made it a keeper!
Ezra L. November 14, 2020
This made a perfect date night dinner, so delicious! I can't eat dairy, so I substituted the creme fraiche with 2tbsp of vegan, unsweetened plan yogurt and 2tbsp vegan cream cheese mixed. Tasted amazing, cannot recommend enough.
galongarfield May 17, 2018
This was tasty but a fair amount of work, even without including roasted lemons for the couscous.
Ian L. August 18, 2015
Amazing dish! A busy recipe, but still manageable for a complete amateur like me. Definitely a treat-yourself kind of dinner.
juliunruly January 7, 2014
FYI in case anyone was curious, this works wonderfully with quinoa instead of the cous cous.
juliunruly October 27, 2013
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.
Susan M. October 3, 2013
What about using preserved lemons? I want to use this recipe for a large party I am doing
juliunruly January 7, 2014
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.
Daniel J. July 10, 2013
I found actually overcooking the lemon so that they caramelized removed the bitterness and brought out a lovely sweet sharpness. Great recipe
aimeebama July 7, 2013
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.
sjaneparker April 12, 2013
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.
QueenOfGreen February 25, 2013
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!
Karen P. February 19, 2013
Why is it called Israeli couscous? Maftoul a Middle Eastern Couscous has been around a lot longer than Israel has!!!!!! Just asking??????
goldengirl72 January 21, 2013
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!
Rupal P. January 8, 2013
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!
Gluttonforacause January 1, 2013
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.
selena December 31, 2012
scallops and lemons sauce was a thumbs up. Couscous was dull and no one liked eating the lemon rinds.
MaureenOnTheCape October 25, 2012
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.
mgherghei January 23, 2012
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!
adamnsvetcooking February 20, 2011
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!