Pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous or maftoul) is made from semolina wheat, just like the traditional form — but the grains are larger, and they look like little pearls of pasta when cooked. Couscous makes a terrific side dish for roasts or grilled meats, and you can add whatever savory ingredients you like to jazz it up.
Here we've chosen a medley of mushrooms for flavor, baby spinach for color and toasted pine nuts for crunch. Try our Parmesan Stock instead of chicken stock for special depth of flavor. The feta cheese is optional, but it gives a distinctive sharp, salty note to the couscous that contrasts and melds beautifully with the other ingredients.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; when hot, add the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook without stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Once the mushrooms begin to turn crusty and golden, sprinkle with salt and stir, turning the mushrooms so the other side can cook. When the mushrooms are tender, remove the pan from the heat and season with freshly ground pepper. Keep warm while you prepare the couscous.
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the butter and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are tender and turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the couscous and garlic; cook, stirring continually, until the couscous turns light golden and the garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the Parmesan Stock (or chicken stock) and raise the heat to high. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the couscous is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Check the pan after 5 minutes and add more stock if needed.
When the couscous is just tender, add the spinach and stir until it wilts, about 2 minutes, adding more stock if the mixture seems dry. Remove the couscous from the heat and stir in the mushrooms, pine nuts and feta, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.