This Shavuot, try Israeli couscous mac and cheese

Israeli couscous mac and cheese. Photo: Shannon Sarna

By Shannon Sarna, The Nosher via JTA

Mac and cheese is one of those comfort food dishes that is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

So when my co-workers suggested I try a mac and cheese made with Israeli couscous instead of traditionally larger pasta like elbows or shells or cavatappi, I happily accepted the challenge and decided to combine a more American-style pasta dish with some Israeli flavors, like cottage cheese and feta.

This baked dish is cheesy and familiar enough to feed the kids, but just different enough to grab the attention of adults. You can make it ahead, serve it for a weeknight dinner or serve it alongside some baked salmon for Shavuot.


2 1/2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous (also called Middle Eastern couscous or pearl couscous)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup whole milk or half & half

8 ounces 4% cottage cheese (around 1 cup)

1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For the topping:

1/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon paprika

pinch salt 


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Cook couscous 5 minutes. Drain in a large mesh sieve.

While couscous is cooking, combine 4 tablespoons butter and all the cheeses, milk, salt and pepper in large bowl.

Grease an 8-by-8 or 9-by-9-inch square pan.

Drain couscous and add to bowl with cheeses. Mix well.

Add to couscous mixture to greased pan. Preheat oven to 375 F. 

In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon melted butter, paprika and pinch of salt.

Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over couscous.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Shannon Sarna is the editor of The Nosher. The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at