Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  And perhaps the mother of internet searches as well–which is how I ended up making Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon, from David Lebovitz.

Israeli Couscous with Butternut and Preserved Lemon--served with lamb

Israeli Couscous with Butternut and Preserved Lemon–served with lamb

It all started, well…, so long ago I don’t remember.   I tasted preserved lemon in a dish and it was magical.  Who would have thought that salty lemon would be so transformative!  I filed the memory away, determined to eat it again.

Then I looked at the price of these in stores.  Yikes!

Homemade Preserved Lemon

Homemade Preserved Lemon

This year, with a goal of doing lot more preserving, I made a jar myself (recipe soon). Organic lemons at Trader Joe’s are a steal!  Mission accomplished, I needed to figure out what to do with them, ‘cause I was clueless.

And so I have to ask…  am I the only person who makes (or buys) something when they have no idea what to do with it?   

sqaush, onion,

Some of the couscous mix-ins

My search yielded this Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon recipe which had the added benefit of using some of my CSA butternut squash.  I served it to Steve & Debra Jo, owners of the CSA Rare Earth Farm, who are two of my favorite people to try new recipes on.  When I point out that they grew some of the food they are eating, how much can they complain? 

Couscous closeup

Couscous closeup

But no one complained, people had seconds, and even took home leftovers.  And my couscous hating husband said it was his favorite part of the meal!    Hooray!

Now I just need a good idea for my nectarines in brandy…  

Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons

Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons brings rich flavor to a healthful and tasty side dish.
Author: Inger
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 10
Calories 279 kcal


  • 1 1/2- pounds butternut squash peeled and seeded (this was half of a large butternut)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 onion peeled and minced
  • 1 3/4 cup Israeli couscous or other very small pasta
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts toasted


  • Cut squash into 1/4 inch cubes, toss with salt and 1 T olive oil. Roast at 450F until tender, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook since they don't need to caramelize and you want them to hold their shape.
  • Heat remaining 2 T olive oil and sautee the chopped onion until tender.
  • Boil the couscous and cinnamon stick in salted water until tender about 10 minutes. Drain but don't rinse and discard the cinnamon stick.
  • Cut up preserved lemon rind into 1/8 to 1/4 inch pieces. Squeeze the juice from the flesh and save.
  • Mix cooked squash cubes, drained couscous, sauteed onions, chopped preserved lemon and juice with remaining ingredients.
  • Serve warm or cool.


Most of the world toasts nuts in the oven, 5-10 minutes at 350 but I invariably burn them this way. Instead I put them in a dry skillet on medium heat and begin stirring as soon as I can smell the slightest hint of toasting (don't leave the kitchen, they get to this point quickly). Stir until golden about 1-2 minutes.
To make this ahead, up to one day in advance, leave out the parsley and toasted pine nuts, and mix them in right before serving. Rewarm if desired.


Calories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 6gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 12mgPotassium: 455mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 7742IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 2mg
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

17 thoughts on “Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon

    1. Inger Post author

      Yes, the two are surprisingly different, aren’t they Grace! I don’t think regular couscous would hold up well at all to this.

  1. Pingback: Preserved Lemons | Art of Natural Living

  2. Karis

    It’s funny, I’ve been led to David Lebovitz’s blog too when I have an odd ingredient I’m looking to use. I’m curious about preserved lemons now and really want to try one!

  3. Kathy

    I just bought a bag of lemons from Trader Joe’s last week for the sole purpose of making preserved lemons! I had saved several recipes awhile back…and I had no idea what I was going to do with them either…but now I do! Thanks for the recipe, Inger…looks delicious!

    1. Inger Post author

      What a funny coincidence Kathy! Perhaps it the challenge of doing something seasonal in winter!

    1. Inger Post author

      How funny you should ask. I actually ended up needing to research the whole couscous issue. There is a lot of discussion on the difference but it seems that regular couscous is granules of durum wheat while the Israeli couscous is a very small pasta made with durum wheat. So they seem very similar but the Israeli has a bit more substance. I am going to try to get out tomorrow for some more lemons to start preserving my next batch! Wouldn’t want to run out!

    1. Inger Post author

      I don’t know what I’d do without TJ’s! I am getting low on preserved lemons–and I must remember that I need to let them cure, so I’ll post when I start the next batch.

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