Mediterranean Pearl Couscous (Maftoul) Recipe

Mediterranean Pearl Couscous (Maftoul)

Serves 4

Pearl couscous is larger than the standard variety and adds a bit of chew. While couscous may look like a grain, it is actually a type of pasta. Dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs, it makes a bright side dish. It can be tossed with any variety of vegetables and be served alongside meat or topped with chickpeas.


  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl couscous
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, reconstituted in warm water and drained
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Harissa (North African red pepper sauce)


  1. In a medium saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and swirl to cover bottom of pan. Add couscous. Cook and stir until golden and toasted.
  2. To the couscous, add 2 1/2 cups water. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until couscous is tender. Remove from heat and let rest with lid on 15 minutes.
  3. While couscous is cooking, heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and minced onion. Sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until blistered, stirring occasionally, another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and up to a tablespoon of harissa (if using). Add couscous and toss well. Add onions, tomatoes, olives, raisins, and herbs. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Sprinkle with pine nuts just before serving.


Amount Per Serving (based on 4 servings)
Calories: 680
Total Fat: 38 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 750 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 3 g
Total Sugar: 15 g
Added Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 12 g
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