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The first Mediterranean dish I ever made consisted of chicken breasts with oregano, lemon, olive oil, black olives and red wine, over a bed of couscous and feta cheese.

I was in love. Since then, I’ve made it so many times, so many different ways.

Needless to say, these flavors are a staple in my house.

This recipe for Oregano Chicken with Israeli Couscous and Greek Salsa I’m sharing with you now is a little bit more lemony and the couscous is bigger, but more on that below.

Related: The #1 Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe to Shut Down All the Competition

What Is Israeli Couscous?

Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, or “ptitim” in Hebrew, was developed in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce due to austerity (or food rationing) in Israel. Despite the name, it is not really couscous.

Traditional couscous, usually steamed, is made from wheat flour and semolina, is tiny little pasta pearls that could be mistaken for teensy balls of rice.

Israeli couscous has a bigger, ball-like shape and is toasted, rather than dried, after the granules are formed. This process gives Israeli couscous a nuttier flavor and chewy bite that adds an unexpected touch to regional recipes.

How to Cook Israeli Couscous

To cook Israeli couscous, follow the instructions on the box as the brand types may differ with cooking times. The first step is to bring your water to a boil and use this rule of thumb: for 1 cup of dry couscous, use 1½ cups of water. For even more flavor, try adding a little olive oil or butter to the water.

To go with my chicken and couscous, I also made a little salad—or salsa—with black-eyed peas, peppers and onions that rounded out the dish.

The salsa isn’t necessarily the most important part of this particular meal, but it happens to be my favorite. I think this dish works because although it’s traditional and the flavors are well known, I’ve incorporated some ingredients that aren’t.

For instance, I used black eyed peas in my “salsa”, which in a way, sorta, kinda takes the place of chickpeas, or hummus, that could be traditionally served alongside this chicken.

I like to change things up every now and then.

And, it resonates my Southern background.

I just love how the tomato, lemon and feta really blend well with the peas.

The salsa is a rock star, don’t leave it out!