Zaatar Couscous with Vegetables

4 from 1 vote

Zaatar couscous with vegetables is a quick and simple vegetarian dish made with basic ingredients. I use my homemade version of the spice blend to infuse plenty of flavor, complemented by the addition of sweet bell peppers, savory onion, and tart pomegranate seeds. Ready in just 30 minutes!

overhead closeup: couscous with vegetables with fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds

I’m a huge fan of couscous — recipes like Moroccan couscous cakes, lamb and pearl couscous, and ptitim, an Israeli couscous salad, often make their way across my table on a given week. Couscous is often considered a simple and wholesome alternative to rice and pasta, and it can be used in a variety of dishes.

Paired with za’atar seasoning (one of my favorite spice blends) and tender cooked bell peppers and onions, this couscous recipe with vegetables has quickly become another one of my go-to recipes. It’s filling enough to be enjoyed as a light lunch, and versatile enough to be served as a side. In other words, you can’t go wrong with couscous with vegetables.

extreme closeup: my couscous recipe with vegetables with herbs and pomegranate on top

Perhaps best of all, it all comes together in one pan and is ready to be enjoyed in under 1 hour. This one really ticks all the boxes.

overhead: ingredients needed for zaatar couscous

Tip From Kevin

Pearl Couscous

Pearl couscous is a cornerstone of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. Used and known differently around the world by names such as Maftoul, Ptitim, Israeli Couscous, or simply Pearl Couscous.

Larger in size, similar to pearls, it has a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture, lending it versatility comparable to Moroccan couscous, albeit smaller.

overhead: cooking bell peppers and onions in a skillet

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

(Be sure to check the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and quantities)

  • Pearl Couscous – Slightly chewy, yet still tender, pearl couscous is larger than other varieties. It’s also very easy to prepare — it can be boiled like pasta. 
  • Pomegranate Seeds To add flavor, color, and texture to your zaatar couscous. The tartness provides an interesting contrast to the other, savory ingredients.  
  • Flat Leaf Parsley – You’ll need quite a bit for this recipe (¼ cup), so I don’t recommend skipping it. It adds a touch of fresh, herby flavor to the mix, plus a pop of color!
  • Green and Yellow Bell Pepper Multi-colored bell peppers pair wonderfully with the other components of this couscous with vegetables. Cooking them brings out their natural sweetness, which adds much to the overall flavor of this dish.
  • Yellow Onion – Sautéing the peppers with the onion gets this couscous recipe with vegetables going. I tend to favor yellow onions as they’re milder than red. They also caramelize beautifully.
  • Olive Oil – Middle Eastern dishes like this recipe are almost always prepared with olive oil, making this ingredient a must. I wouldn’t substitute it with anything else.
  • Za’atar – Herbaceous, a bit tangy, and very aromatic, za’atar seasoning is the star of this couscous with vegetables! I always make it myself, though you can also opt for store-bought versions if you’d like.
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper – To taste.
overhead: pearl couscous with vegetables cooking in a skillet

How to Make Couscous with Vegetables

  1. Recipe Prep. Heat a large skillet (or a Dutch oven) over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Sauté the Peppers & Onion. Add the chopped bell peppers and onion to the oil and sauté for 3 minutes.
  3. Cook the Couscous. Add 1 ½ cups of water, plus the za’atar, salt, and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil and stir in the pearl couscous. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Fluff & Garnish. Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with vegetables with a fork. Toss in the pomegranate seeds and freshly chopped parsley before serving.
  • Large Skillet or Dutch Oven – The key is to use a pan that’s large enough to fit the water needed to cook the couscous recipe with vegetables. So, if opting for a skillet, make sure it’s high-rimmed. You’ll also need a lid.

Storing and Reheating

Allow the zaatar couscous to cool completely before placing it in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

To reheat, place single servings in a microwave-safe dish and heat in the microwave in 30-second increments until warmed through. You can reheat larger portions in a skillet on the stovetop over medium for 5-10 minutes. Add a splash of water to keep it from drying out and stir as it warms to prevent sticking. 

I’ve also been known to enjoy leftovers cold straight out of the fridge with some tahini yogurt sauce drizzled on top!

overhead closeup: couscous recipe with vegetables cooking in a skillet

Frequently Asked Questions

What is zaatar and where can I find it?

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend typically made from a combination of dried thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. You should be able to easily find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores or in the international aisle of your local supermarket. Otherwise, I encourage you to try your hand at my homemade Zaatar Spice Blend for your zaatar couscous.

What can I add to couscous for flavor?

I love adding herbs and spice blends to couscous with vegetables for flavor. My homemade za’atar seasoning — which you’ll remember is made with thyme, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and cumin — adds so much to this zaatar couscous recipe, along with the fresh parsley. The bell peppers and pomegranate seeds also amp up the flavor.

What goes well with couscous?

You can enjoy this couscous recipe with vegetables on its own for a light lunch, or you can serve it as a side dish. I often pair it with Lebanese kafta, Greek lamb meatballs, or lemon zaatar chicken. You could also serve it as part of a larger spread for your next party — it’s a big step up from other, more common (and dare I say, overrated?) side dishes.

extreme closeup: zaatar couscous with fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds on top

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Zaatar Couscous with Vegetables

4 from 1 vote
Zaatar couscous with vegetables is an easy-to-make dish featuring pearl couscous, bell peppers, onion, pomegranate, and flavorful seasonings.
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes



  • Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the vbell peppers and onion with the olive oil for 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups water, zaatar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the pearl couscous. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Remove lid, fluff with fork and toss in pomegranate and chopped parsley before serving.


Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 496IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): zaatar couscous with vegetables


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Why do you say couscous is more wholesome than other pastas? Isn’t it just semolina pasta, like other dried pastas?

    1. I wrote “Couscous is often considered a simple and wholesome alternative to rice and pasta, and it can be used in a variety of dishes.” Sorry for any confusion. Hope you give this one try Alice. 🙂

    1. They are simply a garnish, if you don’t like them, omit or use barberries or golden raisins Claudia. Hope you like it! 🙂