• Could this grain unite a continent? (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

I love preparing a simple salad that’s built around lightly toasted pearl couscous.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (26 votes)

The grains are slightly chewy and a wonderful vessel for the fresh flavours of the parsley and the tart pickled onion.


Quick pickled red onion

  • 250 ml (1 cup) apple cider vinegar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin rings


  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 1 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 320 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time: 2 hours

To prepare the pickled red onion, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt together in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved and then remove from the heat. Place the sliced onion into a jar or container, then pour the hot liquid over. Leave for a few hours before using. (Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)

To prepare the salad, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the couscous and fry for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Pour in the stock, then bring to a simmer. Cover and continue simmering for 10 minutes - the couscous will have absorbed the liquid, puffed up a little and be al dente. Remove the lid from and allow any excess moisture to steam off. Once the couscous has cooled to slightly warmer than room temperature, combine with the remaining ingredients and serve.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page. Creative concept by Belinda So.


Paul West is the host of River Cottage Australia on SBS Food (Channel 33) and on SBS On Demand. For more recipes from Paul, click here.