This Mediterranean couscous salad recipe is loaded with vibrant colors and fresh vegetables in every single bite. Pearl couscous, chickpeas, crispy cucumbers, tomatoes and tossed in a homemade dressing that is light and refreshing.
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Best Mediterranean Couscous Salad Recipe
This couscous recipe is a perfect summer salad that is bursting with tasty flavors that will win you over with each bite. I love using fresh produce from the farmer’s market or garden when it’s in season and a great way to get plenty of fresh veggies into your diet!
It’s a delicious side dish to bring to a potluck or a summer cookout. Light salads are so refreshing and perfect for serving on a hot summer day. The fresh flavors are just incredible.
White Wine Vinegar – White wine vinegar is tart and tangy but also not as bold as other varieties of vinegar. It makes a great option.
Mustard – I opted for Dijon mustard as it has a bite to it, but isn’t overpowering. Feel free to use regular yellow mustard or a heartier stone ground mustard.
Herbs – Minced parsley and thyme are both used to complement the veggies and salad.
Garlic – Freshly minced garlic is what I recommend over garlic powder when I’ve made this recipe. But feel free to use garlic powder if that’s all you have.
Oil – Olive oil or avocado oil is the best for making a homemade vinaigrette.
Couscous – Pearled couscous (Israeli couscous) is what I used for this salad. There are other types of couscous like moroccan couscous, golden couscous or even tri-colored that are all great too.
Chickpeas – You can use canned garbanzo beans or cooked from dry beans.
Cucumbers – Use any fresh cucumbers you’d like. Persian or English cucumbers that are thinly sliced work wonderful for this fresh salad.
Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes cut in half are the perfect bite-size for this simple salad. You can also slice larger tomatoes into cubes.
1. Top the salad with toasted pine nuts or toasted almonds for a nice crunch.
2. Swap white wine vinegar with red wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar.
3. Any type of fresh tomato works. I just recommend if it is heavy with seeds remove the seed and then dice up the rest for the salad.
4. Swap the couscous with orzo to make this into an orzo pasta salad. This is a versatile dish that can be changed up.
5. Add diced red peppers or roasted red peppers to add to the salad. You can also use other bell peppers, I just prefer red when making this couscous salad.
6. Add other veggies like diced artichoke hearts, grilled zucchini or creamy diced avocado, red onion or kalamata olives.
7. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice right before you toss.
8. Season with sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.
9. Use a vinaigrette dressing from the store instead of making your own salad dressing for this salad. Even a light lemon dressing would be delicious.
10. Garnish with fresh herbs like fresh mint, oregano, dill, basil or sliced scallions for another great flavor to mix in the salad.
11. Add in a favorite protein like shrimp or grilled chicken for a more hearty salad.
How to Make Couscous Salad
Serve this as a light lunch, a main dish with some Naan bread on the side, or even as a great side dish to pair with any main. This is such a versatile meal I think you will enjoy it!
Step 1 – Make the dressing. Add the dressing ingredients and adding all the ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk together well or place ingredients in a mason jar and shake well and set aside.
Step 2 – In a large skillet or saucepan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat for a minute until just barely warm. (do not heat too high)
Then, add couscous and heat for approximately 2 minutes, stirring often, until toasted.
Step 3 – Next, slowly add in the water to the pan, increase the temperature to medium-high and bring water to a boil.
Step 4 – Cook couscous for 7 -8 minutes then add the chickpeas and heat for another minute or 2.
After cooking, drain the mixture in a colander in the sink and run them under cold water until they are slightly cooled. It doesn’t have to be cold just not steaming hot.
Step 5 – Transfer the cous cous to a large bowl and add in the sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.
Step 6 – Drizzle with the vinaigrette dressing and season with salt and pepper.
Top with feta cheese if you want when you this refreshing salad.
- To add more flavor to the couscous you can use chicken or vegetable broth in place of water to cook the couscous.
- If you use a regular cucumber scoop out the excess seeds, as it will water down the salad over time.
- Reach for quality ingredients for optimal flavor. It truly will make a big difference in flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil is the best as vegetable oil will seem to weigh down the salad. Now avocado oil is good as well and you will get benefits from it.
- Do not add on the feta cheese until right before serving. It will kind of melt into the salad a bit as it sits so it is best as a topper.
- This can be served slightly warm or opt for a cold salad. Either works well for this dish.
- If you have time, let it sit in the refrigerator for 15-20 for the flavors to meld together.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Just give it a light toss before you serving.
Yes, you sure can! You can make it up to a day in advance. The flavors will meld together even more.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad
For the Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup pearl couscous
- 3 cups water
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 2 Persian cucumbers sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
Make the Vinaigrette
- Add the white wine vinegar, dijon, parsley, garlic, and thyme to a large bowl and whisk to combine.2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, 2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Next drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Whisk until the vinaigrette is fully emulsified.⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the Salad
- In a large skillet or saucepan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat for a minute until just barely warm. (do not heat too high)2 tablespoons olive oil
- Then, add the couscous and heat for approximately 2 minutes, stirring often, until toasted.1 cup pearl couscous
- Next, slowly add in the water to the pan, increase the temperature to medium-high and bring it to a boil.3 cups water
- Cook for 7 -8 minutes then add the chickpeas and heat for another minute or 2.
- After cooking, drain the mixture in a colander in the sink and run them under cold water until they are slightly cooled. It doesn't have to be cold just not steaming hot.
- Transfer the couscous mixture to a serving bowl and add the sliced cucumber and tomatoes to the bowl .15 ounce can chickpeas, 2 Persian cucumbers, 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Drizzle with the vinaigrette and additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with feta cheese if desired.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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