Pickled Pepper Pearl Couscous

What can I say! I love a quick pickle! Who’s with me? This recipe for Pickled Pepper Pearl Couscous is not only fun to say, but easy to make. It requires only a little planning ahead, and what I consider to be a few staple pantry ingredients. Shall we?

A bowl of pearl couscous tossed with red, yellow and orange diced bell peppers, black beans and chopped cilantro.To start, I pickle the peppers. Since these need to sit in the pickling liquid for a few hours, minimum, it’s ideal if you can do this a day or two ahead. But, if you are stumbling across this recipe in the morning in search of dinner ideas for tonight, well, then get your pickle on now and it should be good to go by dinner time.

As I shared in my recipe for easy pickled red onions, I like a simple combination of apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt. If you have white vinegar or rice vinegar on hand instead, either of those work perfectly well, too.

Raise your hand if you keep pearl couscous in your pantry!? I do! I do! Why? Because it’s fun to eat tiny little pearls, AND it cooks in only 8 minutes, in a small saucepan without the need of a strainer. Like larger pasta, only more efficient! Raise your hand if you love efficiency!

While the couscous simmers, you can strain your peppers and the black beans and chop the cilantro. All of this gets mixed into a large bowl, which you will add the couscous to as soon as it’s ready. Season with pickling liquid, olive oil, salt and pepper, give it a good stir and Voila! Bob’s your uncle!

A bowl of pearl couscous tossed with red, yellow and orange diced bell peppers, black beans and chopped cilantro.

Want more than just a side dish for dinner? Well, I got you covered. This dish pairs well with lots of main courses, like my Shrimp and Artichoke CakesLamb Burgers with Spicy Cucumbers, or Easy Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms, just to suggest a few. So, hopefully we just answered your “What’s for Dinner?” question! If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Shrimp and Artichoke Cakes on a plate with arugula.

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A bowl of pearl couscous tossed with red, yellow and orange diced bell peppers, black beans and chopped cilantro.

Pickled Pepper Pearl Couscous

  • Author: Emily Wilson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: American


A surprisingly simple side dish that pairs well with chicken, seafood, steak or pork and can be done ahead of time.



For the pickled peppers:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium bell peppers, I prefer red, orange and yellow, diced small

For the couscous:

  • 1 cup pearl or Israeli couscous
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pickling liquid from the peppers
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Queso fresco or crumbled feta, optional


  1. Pickle the peppers one to three days in advance. Measure the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt into a small saucepan, set over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the peppers and place in a heat-proof bowl, large enough to hold the peppers and the pickling liquid. Once the liquid has come to a boil and the sugar and salt are dissolved, pour over the peppers. Let cool at room temp, then package up and store in the fridge.
  3. To make the couscous, measure 1 1/4 cup of water and a pinch of salt into a small saucepan. Set over high heat. Once boiling, pour in the couscous. Cover pot, lower heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  4. Strain the peppers from the liquid, reserving 1-3 tablespoons of picking liquid. Place the pickled peppers in a large mixing bowl. Add the strained and rinsed black beans and chopped cilantro.
  5. Once couscous is done, add it to the bowl of peppers and black beans. Drizzle in some pickling liquid and extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If using, stir in crumbled cheese. Serve and enjoy!


If you prefer to tackle all the cooking at one time, rather than pickling one day and then making the couscous the next, go ahead and boil the couscous while you pickle the peppers. Toss the couscous with olive oil, black beans and cilantro and store in the fridge. After the peppers have pickled adequately, strain them and toss with the couscous and some reserved pickling liquid.

Keywords: pearl couscous, easy side dishes, easy pasta recipes, quick pickling, how to pickle peppers

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