Broccoli & Parmesan Israeli Couscous


In truth, I believe you can never eat too much pasta. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about pasta as a side, the accompaniment rather than the main course. One easy way I do this is to think of “pasta with vegetables” as “vegetables with pasta,” changing the proportions so my final dish isn’t totally carb focused. I do this especially when the pasta will be my lunch and I don’t want to spend the afternoon in a food coma.

This dish, which is a cross between a couscous salad and, well, mac and cheese, is a perfect side for steak, chicken, or tofu.

Israeli couscous is made from wheat, like the teeny tiny couscous I’m used to eating. According to Claudia Roden, families in North Africa used to grind their wheat to their preferred coarseness, so there was a range of textures and appearances among couscous dishes. Now “Israeli couscous” seems to stand for a coarser-grained couscous that holds up well to soups, stews, and–as I discovered when I improvised this dish–cheese, broccoli, and herbs. It’s as good beside some protein and a salad, in place of mashed potatoes or bread, as it is packed for lunch the next day. I’ve also included a tip for making this cheesy, creamy side dish as a casserole, which means it’s easy to make in advance.


Broccoli & Parmesan Israeli Couscous
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main/brown bag lunch
A creamy pasta dish that's also rich in vegetables. If you want to make this in advance for a dinner party, you could transfer the finished dish to a buttered baking dish the night before. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes, until bubbling.
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2½ cups broccoli (from one small head, you can use both florets and most of the stem)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup milk - I used 2% but works fine with skim
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan and Pecorino, or just Parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic, minced with ¼ teaspoon salt until it becomes like a paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a generous bunch of salt and the couscous. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until just tender, then drain in a mesh strainer.
  2. Place the broccoli in a sauté pan with a lid (you can always improvise the lid situation, or use foil) with ⅓ cup of water: bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 10 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure there's still water in the bottom of the pan. If there's not, add in a little bit. Transfer to a bowl to let cool slightly. Chop into small pieces.
  3. While the broccoli is cooling, wipe out the pan with a clean dish towel. Set over medium heat and add the butter and the shallot. Cook until the shallot is softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook until it's fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring as you go to avoid clumps in the flour. Keep cooking, stirring, until the mixture has bubbled and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the salt, a few grinds of black pepper, most of the grated cheese, the minced garlic, and the herbs. Cook for 1 minute, to let the cheese melt, then add back in all the chopped broccoli. Add the drained Israeli couscous, stir together, and then transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved cheese and herbs.

Posted in: meatless monday
  • Maria

    I want this for lunch!

    • BGSK

      You could have it if you were lunching with me!

  • Elisa

    I don’t really like couscous but I’ll be making this recipe substituting it with rice!
    Oh, and you’re totally right: you can never eat too much pasta!
    xo, Elisa

  • Lori Yates

    This almost looks like a creamy, cheesy, risotto – yum! I love israeli couscous, too. I think it’s funny when I serve it at a party, and everybody thinks it’s healthy because it’s a “grain.” Depending on how many glasses of wine I’ve had, I don’t have the heart to tell them otherwise :)

    I did a post with isreali couscous today, too, actually!

  • Heather Nabers West

    Israeli couscous is pretty much one of my favorite things ever. I can’t wait to try this!

    • BGSK

      It’s a recent addition to my favorites list, but there’s something just so satisfying about it.

  • Marla Meridith

    A complete bowl of greatness you have right here!

  • marie @ little kitchie

    I agree that you can never have too much pasta, but have also been trying to load mine at least with equal parts “good” stuff too. :) This looks awesome!

    • BGSK

      Thanks, Marie!

  • Taylor Cronin

    i love israeli couscous and broccoli!!! this sounds like a big ol’ bowl of awesomeness to me. will have to make it soon!

  • Tibs

    Oh, that must be delicious!

    Our menu from last week:

  • Megan@CookingOnEmpty

    That looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Donna

    where can I get Israeli couscous?

    • BGSK

      My supermarket carried Bob Red Mill’s Israeli couscous. You can also find it at a Middle Eastern store.

  • antinea

    should taste just as good, and be healthier with quinoa instead of couscous!

  • Gabrielle Rousseau

    Tried this tonight with quinoa instead of coucous. Amazing!! Everyone will be jealous of my leftovers tomorrow at work!

  • Rebecca

    Cannot wait to make this tonight to go with dinner then for lunch next week. Yum; this is SO my kind of recipe!

  • sarilittlefriedman

    Could I make this with almond milk?

    • BGSK

      You could try, but I’m not sure how the texture will be. Definitely use unsweetened if you do!

  • Kat H

    Yum! Such a delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    • BGSK

      You’re welcome – thanks for your comment!

  • Brittany

    If I wanted to add an additional protein what would you suggest? Fish or chicken or something else? Thanks!

    • BGSK

      Hm, I think a piece of chicken or fish, seared or roasted, would be a great complement.

  • holygral

    Needed to add something to my boxed Parmesan Couscous.. I boiled my broccoli in butter and water… And added Parmesan, garlic and onion powders to my dish. Thanks a bunch! Can’t wait to make this from scratch someday!

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