Have you ever eaten a dish and been like ‘wow, I wish this meal had more burrata??’ Yeah, you won’t have that problem over here. I originally made this recipe as a way to use up some burrata I bought last summer, and it went way better than expected. This recipe is pretty simple to make—the three main components (beans, couscous and yellow squash) are all cooked separately and combined at the end.
Technically, you could eat this as a cold salad, but I like it warm so that when I break the burrata and sprinkle on some parm at the end (listen, I’m not afraid of no calories over here, okay) everything melts together in a warm, delightful…mess.
Why you should make Israeli Couscous with Yellow Squash, Cannellini Beans and Burrata
Personally, I just like excuses to put burrata on things, and this dish is perfect for that. You can add as much burrata as you want—your dish, your rules, plus, a little salty parm perfectly balances the fat in the burrata, and the acid of the lemon juice in everything else. Also, unlike other carb-based burrata recipes, this one is relatively light because of the addition of the squash, plus the beans make it just filling enough to serve as either a weeknight meal, or a work from home lunch. It also comes together pretty quickly for those days you need a filling meal quickly.
Pro Tips/Things to Know About This Recipe:
Why does this recipe work?
I always like to include this section so you know how to tweak this recipe and make it your own. Salt, fat and acid are three flavors that all work to balance each other out in a dish—and this one includes all three. The acid in the lemon juice and zest is balanced by the fat from the olive oil and burrata in this recipe and the salt comes in from the salt added throughout the recipe, but also from the parmesan that’s added in the end.
There’s also a nice balance of cooked vs. fresh here as well thanks to the addition of the burrata and basil at the end.
The beans offer protein in addition to the cheese, but you do not specifically need to use cannelinni beans. I like them for their size and color in this recipe, but you could just as easily use white beans or great northern beans for the same effect.
What is Israeli Couscous and how to cook it
According to Food52, Israeli couscous is a small pellet-shaped pasta made from wheat flour and water. It is different from traditional couscous in that the pellets are larger and it’s closer to an orzo than traditional couscous. Traditional couscous is cooked by steaming it on the stove, while Israeli couscous is boiled, more like traditional pasta.
In this recipe, before boiling the couscous, I like to toast it in the pot on medium heat with a little olive oil before boiling. Not only does it add a little color to the couscous, but I’ve noticed that it also helps prevent the couscous from getting too mushy during the boiling process.
When it comes to boiling the couscous, cooking it in veggie broth helps give it a little flavor in place of just regular water. Once the broth cooks out, usually, the couscous is close to being fully cooked, but it’s not quite there yet, so I turn off the heat, quickly add lemon juice, zest and salt to taste, fluff lightly with a fork to distribute the flavors and cover again while it’s still hot so that it can finish cooking. Like rice, do NOT vigorously stir your couscous to avoid releasing the starches and making your couscous all mushy and starchy.
Searing the Yellow Squash
Yellow squash generally has a ton of water content, which can make it finicky when searing. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Keep that yellow squash right and tight (just wondering if you’re paying attention) by making sure that your pan and your oil are up to medium-high heat before adding your squash.
Adding your squash to a cool pan and letting the squash cook as the heat increases will allow the water to slowly release from the squash and will leave you with a mushy, sad pile of slop. Ew.
Pay close attention to your squash as it cooks to ensure that you’re flipping each piece before it burns.
It’s All About the Burrata
Burrata cheese is a sibling of mozzarella cheese. As a matter of fact, it’s solid shell outside IS mozzarella…so maybe that makes it more of…like a weird mutant child?? I don’t know. All I know is the creamy, gooey insides of this cheese make for the perfect mix-in to any dish—no melting required. That said, this cheese is also perfect for this recipe because it mixes nicely with all the small ingredients that this recipe is made up of to get maximum cheese in every bite.
The only draw back of this cheese is that it can be pretty high in calories if you eat a whole ball (it’s like, why does the world hate us, amiright?), so what I normally do is cut a ball in half and stir in the gooey insides into the couscous, squash and beans. That also helps you stretch the burrata to 4 servings (because the average package of burrata has 2 balls in it). Once I stir in the burrata, THEN I add the basil and parm (I added the basil before the burrata for pics because it’s really not a pretty dish once that happens) and stir again before eating—but your meal, your rules!
Israeli Couscous with Yellow Squash, Cannellini Beans and Burrata
Light but filling meal perfect for weeknight dinners or lunches that can be ready in about 30 minutes. Great for vegetarians, or people who just really like burrata.
- 1 cup of Israeli couscous
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil (divided)
- 1 ¼ cup of vegetable broth
- Zest of half a lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 13 ounce can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 cup of vegetable broth (more as needed)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 inches of large leek (white part only)
- 4 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of ½ of a lemon
- 1 medium-sized yellow squash
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Additional Ingredients
- 2 burrata balls
- Chiffonaded (Shredded) basil
- Shredded Parmesan
- Rinse and dry leek, squash and basil. Cut leeks into ⅛ of an inch thick rounds, then cut into half moons. Repeat until you have ¼ cup (packed) of leeks. Slice squash into ¼ of an inch rounds, then cut into fours, set aside. Chiffonade (shred) enough basil to desired thickness to top dish at the end. Drain and rinse beans.
- In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat (1-2 minutes). Add couscous. Stir to coat in olive oil, then stir frequently as couscous continues to toast (about 4 minutes). Once most couscous is golden brown, add broth, turn to medium-low and cover. Allow to cook until all broth has evaporated (about 12-15 minutes). Check on couscous periodically as it cooks.
- While couscous boils, in a large nonstick pan, heat olive oil on medium-low heat (1-2 minutes). Add leeks and allow to cook until almost translucent (2-3 minutes). Add beans, broth, salt and pepper. Allow to cook, covered, for 5 minutes before adding garlic and continuing to cook another 7 minutes, or until garlic is fully cooked and beans are tender, adding more broth as needed. Once beans are done, turn off burner, add lemon juice and place into another bowl, covered to be kept warm.
- Check on couscous. If broth is taking longer, turn up heat to medium or medium-high. Couscous should be slightly uncooked at this point. Once all broth has evaporated add salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Fluff with a fork to combine and cover to continue cooking. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and incorporate to keep couscous from sticking together.
- Use the pan from the beans to heat olive oil and bring pan back up to medium to medium-high heat. Lay squash flat in pan, cook for 2-3 minutes until golden on each side before flipping to the other side. Once cooked on both sides, add salt. Remove from pan.
- In a large bowl or pot, combine all cooked ingredients to incorporate. Taste, and adjust salt and lemon juice amounts as needed. Serve. Add basil, cut burrata balls in half and add one to each plate. Top with parmesan and enjoy.
Only add squash to pan once pan and oil are up to temp, then watch closely while cooking to prevent burning.
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