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Pearl Couscous “Risotto” with Asparagus

4 Servings

30 minutes

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Classic risotto is made with starchy medium-grain Italian rice, such as Arborio or carnaroli. This “risotto” uses pearl couscous (which actually is a pasta) and a simplified risotto cooking method to produce “grains” with a rich, creamy consistency. The wheaty flavor of pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous or ptitim) is a perfect match for grassy, subtly sweet asparagus and the salty, nutty flavor of Parmesan cheese.




Don’t allow the onion to brown. The assertive bittersweet flavor of caramelized onion will easily overwhelm the other flavors in the dish.

30 minutes


  • 4

    tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, chopped


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Tyler B.
June 27, 2022
I made this skeptically -- would this really work? Would it be as good as risotto? It was a total slam dunk. Layers of flavor and texture and a beautiful shimmery look to the pearls make this a gorgeous side for a sit down meal.
Marilyn B.
June 19, 2022
Unbelievably delicious
I have now made this twice and each time, I was blown away by the layers and depth of flavor. The second time, I paired it with chunks of baked salmon, which I had coated with EVOO and topped with a mixture of 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest; 1 teaspoon finely; chopped oregano; 1 teaspoon kosher salt; and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. My dinner party was a great success and the compliments were lavish.
Maureen O.
April 4, 2024
Spring in a bowl
Loved the simplicity and freshness of this dish! Made a few tweaks bit of lemon zest and juice. Added lemon balm and mint with parsley from our garden. Served with some salmon. Big winner and rave reviews from family!
Bentley M.
February 5, 2024
Very straightforward and ended up fantastic! The pearl couscous works really well with the flavor combos