Pearl Couscous with Herbs Almonds and Pecorino
This dish marries salty, savory flavors with fresh herbal notes and the nutti-ness of roasted almonds. Fennel seeds add licorice undertones; grind the seeds to a powder in an electric spice grinder or with mortar and pestle (if you can find preground fennel seed at the store, use an equal amount). The herbs are less likely to discolor if chopped just before use; prep them while the couscous cooks. Serve as a light main course, or offer it as a side dish to grilled or roasted chicken or lamb.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
  • 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oilplus more to serve
  • 2oz thinly sliced pancettafinely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onionfinely chopped
  • 1cup pearl couscous
  • 1tbsp fennel seedsground
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2cup dry white wine
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 2oz Pecorino Romano cheesefinely grated (1 cup)
  • 1/2cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2cup salted roasted almondschopped
  1. START: On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Normal/Medium Sauté. Add the oil and pancetta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the couscous, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the wine and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until reduced and syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water, then distribute the couscous mixture in an even layer.
  2. Fast: Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 5 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  3. FINISH: Stir in the lemon juice, half the pecorino, half of each herb and half the almonds. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, the remaining herbs and the remaining almonds, then drizzle with oil.
Recipe Notes

Don’t forget to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot after adding the wine. Those bits build depth of flavor in the finished dish.