Giant couscous salad
Updated: Tue, 6 July, 2021
Giant couscous is not exactly oversized variety of couscous, contrary to what you might think...
Is couscous a grain?
Couscous is really pasta. It was recently the cause of The Weather Man’s epiphany and revelation, not entirely of a positive flavour. He had been convinced, poor soul, that couscous was a grain: wholesome, natural, unprocessed, rolling fields of couscous swaying in the gentle wind somewhere in the Middle East. I bet he wasn’t isolated in the belief.
Couscous is not a plant: it’s processed grain, whacked to shape of tiny or slightly bigger crumbs/lumps. Weirdly, it’s still pretty wholesome and good for us to eat – there are even couscous-based weight-loss programmes.
My secret suspicion is that it’s because it SO gets everywhere when you’re cooking it, only very little ends up on our plates. Joking aside, it is a slow-release carbohydrate and lower in calories than rice, thus keeping us full for a longer time.
Giant couscous origins
Israeli or giant couscous – also known as pearl couscous or ptitim – is pretend rice. During the 1950s austerity period in Israel, it was developed as a wheat-based substitute for scarce then rice. They jostled the durum wheat grains to shape approximating rice grains, later made to resemble real couscous.
Needs must, as always – and Jewish communities historically had to be naturally more resourceful than others; hence we’re thankful to them for pastrami and bagels, less so for gefilte fish.
It really is just the most fantastic canvas for a salad – throw anything in, season heavily and it will go down a treat. This features roasted red peppers, and however kosher (ha!) it may be to grab a jar of Spanish piquillos, it’s rather fun to grill a bunch of peppers black and peel them satisfyingly when sweated; it beats picking a scab anytime.
I love those big chunky grains-not-grains in salads. Giant cousccous is one of my favourites, bulgur wheat is another. I do pity those on gluten-limited diets: not only cakes are out of bounds but even healthy salads like these!
NEW recipe finder
Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!