Lemony and fragrant, this ptitim salad (also called Israeli couscous salad) is a treat for sunny afternoons. Ready in 15 mins, it is a great addition to any meal or better still a perfectly balanced meal in itself!
Ptitim (pronounced as pee-ti-tim) is more commonly known as Israeli couscous or pearl couscous because of its white pearly appearance. I first had Ptitim salad from my colleague, Ana’s lunch box :-). Both Ana and I work at a Foundation here in Luanda. We not only share our office space but actually almost everything there! And lunch box sharing is our favorite time. Ana loves my Indian vegetarian curries paired with rice or sometimes paratha and I love to try out new stuff from her tiffin box. Especially the salads! The recipe for the couscous salad with chickpeas and raisins also came from her lunch box :-).
The small pasta or the big couscous?
Ptitim is a Hebrew word, literally translating to “small flakes”. A totally apt word for this beautiful pearly pasta!
It has a very special history too. Ana told me ptitim was discovered when there was a shortage of rice in Israel after the war of independence. It was a substitute for rice but now it has found a place in the gourmet shelves, especially outside of Israel, commonly known as Israeli couscous.
I don’t know why it is popular as Israeli couscous and not pasta. There isn’t any similarity in texture or taste between the traditional couscous and ptitim. I feel like it is the smallest pasta. Or maybe the largest couscous. What do you think? 🙂
How to cook Israeli couscous or Ptitim
Israeli couscous cooks like any other pasta but since it is very small, it hardly takes 5-6 mins to cook. To make Israeli couscous, bring a big pot of water to boil. Add some salt and the pearl couscous. Cook for 5-6 mins till the couscous is tender. Drain, wash under running water and then add some olive oil to prevent the pearls from sticking to each other.
Israeli couscous will also go great in other salad recipes using small pastas like the orzo pasta salad recipe. I recently made this salad for a barbecue party. Served cold, it was the perfect side to the grilled food. All the herbs that I used, I picked them from my own balcony garden! The recipe is adapted from, Fresh Flavours from Israel, a gift that Ana got for me from Israel (along with the Israeli couscous).
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- 1 cup ptitim (Israeli couscous or pearl couscous)
- 1/2 cup carrots , peeled and julienned
- 1/2 cup mixed pepper (I used red and yellow)
- 1/2 cup green olives ,roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh herb leaves - dill, parsley, and basil
- 1 lemon (zest & juice)
- Salt , to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper , to taste
Cook Israeli couscous (or ptitim) in 4 cups of salted boiling water. It cooks just like pasta and hardly takes 5-6 minutes to become tender. Drain and rinse in cold running water until it has cooled down.
Put in a large mixing bowl and drizzle over olive oil. Mix well to prevent the ptitim from sticking to each other. Add all other ingredients and toss well. Chill in the fridge for at least half hour before serving.
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