Saturday, 25 June 2011

Giant Couscous - A Healthy Snack Bowl Lunch

Oh - I love this stuff. Giant couscous - or pearl couscous as it's otherwise known.

I searched long and hard for well over a year and could not find it anywhere. Eventually, I found it was made by Merchant Gourmet and is stocked in most branches of Waitrose.

It's much much larger than normal couscous and once cooked, swells to a similar size as tiny pearls. It's a totally different texture and not "gritty". My husband quite likes this and he hates normal couscous.

It is easy to cook, but rather different in preparation to ordinary couscous. Boil for approx 8 minutes until tender in either water or vegetable / chicken stock and then drain. I like to refresh it as you would noodles in cold water to remove excess starch and then drain again.


This picture shows giant couscous (left), normal couscous (centre) and mograbiah (mega giant Lebanese cous cous).

I managed to get hold of some Mograbiah from and found at the same time that these guys also stock pearl couscous.

So far, I've had little luck cooking the Mograbiah. I found when cooking it that it was either mushy, or soft on the outside and hard on the inside. I'm going to try cooking it on the next attempt by steaming it on the rack in my pressure cooker rather than boiling in a pot like the pearl couscous.

I dressed my couscous simply in a beautiful fresh coriander and chilli oil pesto I also bought in Waitrose made by a company called STARK NAKED FOODS. The name did make me giggle ! But seriously - crunchy pine nuts, a good amount of parmesan, some fresh fragrant coriander and chilli oil. You can't get a much more healthy lunch. It's wonderful to toss a spoonful into some boiled new potatoes too.

Normally, I'd make my own pesto. However, I adore coriander and my husband cannot stand the stuff. Most of it goes to waste when I buy a bunch of the stuff. The little pack from Stark Naked has two dinky pots - individually sealed and perfect for yours truly.

I tossed this through my cooked giant couscous, added some crumbled feta and a few halves cherry tomatoes. I'll admit I added a little extra chilli oil (as I adore the stuff). It packs neatly into one of Oliver's little plastic bowls and is ideal for me to wrap with some cling film and take to work for lunch.

As I was making this on Wednesday; just before going to work; Oliver was sat watching tv (just out the bath).

Oliver : "I REALLY need a Mc'Donalds Mummy."
Oliver : " I REALLY REALLY do ....!"

Me : "How about an apple"

Oliver : "That's a good idea. Make it a big green one with a hole in the middle and the skin off please."
Oliver : "But I'll need you to make a chocolate cake later....."

He later forgot about the chocolate cake. We'll keep that for another day !

He might have the blonde hair and blue eyes of an angel, but a cheeky monkey lies within.... He knows how to make his mummy smile :-)

Sarah-Jane Nash - - June 2011


  1. What a beautiful salad...makes my mouth water! Oliver, Oliver, what an adorable, sweet little character!
    "I Really NEED a McDonald's, Mummy!" LOL :)

  2. Wow those are large couscous! I have neevr seen anything like them.

    That was hilarious. :D Oliver is soo soo adorable and getting cuter by the day :)))

  3. I love couscous and try to eat at least once a week. Here, beside the north African couscous we also have Israeli couscous which requires boiling like pasta, but never seem the giant type.
    Love your salad. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Your son is so cute!! Love that he needs McDonalds and chocolate cake - my kind of boy! Great Couscous - sounds delicious!

  5. Waitrose is the only place for miles I'd been able to find the Giant couscous - before discovering and they do that really huge stuff !

    I do like to let it sit for at least 15 mins after I've dressed it to absorb flavours and if using with roasted vegetables, it might even sit in the fridge for 2 or 3 days

    I couldn't keep a straight face with Oliver... He certainly thought that an apple was not a good enough substitute for a McDonalds but worked out that perhaps chocolate cake was. Geez - wish I was that quick !

  6. Love those Oliver pictures! And great excitement! I've heard there's a Waitrose coming to Chester - only 22 miles away! Yipee!

  7. I am a recent convert to giant couscous - love the stuff!

    You've now made me crave a peeled and cored apple - I'd forgotten how lovely they are to eat!

  8. This looks fabulous! My husband also hates regular couscous...but loves the Pearl. We find it here called Israeli couscous. I have some Mograbiah that I bought for a recipe in the Ottolenghi cookbook...I have yet to make it. It was hard to find here...I got it from

  9. Love this healthy dish! Sounds great!

  10. Ann - Waitrose is good, but mighty expensive. I don't go there much, but when I do, I spend lots of money on very little :-S

    Caked Crusader - actually - you're right. Peeled and cored apples somehow do taste better. The skin never gets wasted. The chicken fight over it !

    Linda - I've had mograhbiah sitting around for a while now. Didn't get on with it first two attempts. I really need to try steaming it in the pressure cooker to see if I can cook it through without outside being mush or inside being hard.

    Pearl / Israeli couscous is looooovely though !

  11. Hi Sarah-Jane, It's such a nice surprise to see your giant couscous recipe. The other day I say it but didn't buy because I wanted to do some research first. I had forgotten until just now. You've convinced me to give it a try. Your recipe sounds so delicious.

    Your son is so adorable. We share our liking for peeled apples :) I only eat them peeled and cut into small wedges. He is too cute:)


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