What is it? Israeli couscous, also known as ptitim, is a baked pasta most commonly in the shape of tiny little spheres. Like the other couscous, it is made of semolina wheat, but instead of being dried, it is toasted, and the individual granules are almost twice as large.
It is similar in size and shape to orzo, the Italian pasta shaped like large grains of rice. Unfortunately for any health-conscious eaters, it is not a whole-grain pasta.
It was invented during the austerity period in Israel from 1949 - 1959, when supplies like rice were rationed. In response, a wheat-based, rice-shaped product was developed to fill in for rice-hungry immigrants.
What is it used for? It can be used in place of rice or pasta, especially in chilled salads with vegetables and herbs.
Where can you buy it in Houston? Any grocery store with a bulk section. Good places to start would be Central Market, larger H-E-Bs and Whole Foods.
Recipe: Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables: Courtesy of Food Network