This easy, crunchy, flavorful couscous salad is loaded with fresh vegetables, pearl couscous, and fresh herbs. It is the perfect side for any protein, or works perfectly as a vegetarian main. When it comes to summer salads, this one is perfect, as the vegetables are hearty, and it can be made ahead.
I was provided a complimentary trip to Israel with Vibe Israel, which helped facilitate this post, all opinions are my own.
On my recent visit to Israel, with Vibe Israel, one of the things I enjoyed most was the variety of hearty and flavorful salads served with every meal, like this Tabbouleh. I felt so good every day, and loved all the fresh, nutritious options. I was determined to come home and duplicate this in my own cooking.
The food in Israel is absolutely magical, it is so fresh, so vibrant, so colorful. It is a melding of so many cultures and flavors, and is some of the best in the world. I could talk about it for days, and have shared some of my favorites in this What to Eat in Israel post. I love the way the people eat, with so many fresh salads and options at each meal. I am always so impressed by the variety and freshness, Israeli Friday Night Dinner is like Thanksgiving, and they do it each week. So many options.
However, making so many salads at every meal is overwhelming. And not sustainable for me. So instead of trying to make 5 salads at every meal, I looked for ways to make 5 salads ahead that would keep well in the fridge, and I could use all week. 5 is way easier than 25.
This couscous salad, using Israeli couscous fits the bill perfectly. I have fallen in love with this salad. It can be made ahead and enjoyed all week, and only gets better as the flavors meld. Reducing the work load, while still allowing for a fantastic meal loaded with vegetables and flavor.
The star of this recipe is the Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is nutty, slightly chewy, and takes on the flavor of the dressing or sauce you pair it with. It is the ideal base for this amazing salad, and one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. It is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and something I guarantee you will love adding into your dinner rotation.
Here is why you will love this Israeli Couscous Salad:
- Easy to make. If you can chop, you can make this salad.
- Hearty and full of vegetables. Great as a main or side, and full of healthy ingredients.
- Can be made ahead. And as the flavors meld it gets better and better.
- Versatile. Enjoy it as a satisfying side dish, a light lunch, or even a filling vegetarian main course.
- Nutritious. This salad offers a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
What You Need to Make Couscous Salad
Intro to what you need with focus on it is eazy peazy and ingredients are easy to find
- Israeli couscous: Israeli couscous is the larger pearl couscous, it is often referred to as “pearl couscous”. Basically it is a semolina flour pasta in the shape of little pearls. It is chewy, slightly nutty, and absolutely delicious, and pairs well with tons of things. To use it, you toast it, then cook it in water to soften it up. It adds great texture to this amazing salad.
- Fresh veggies: The beautiful thing about this salad is that it is loaded with fresh vegetables, and you can swap them out for your preferred veggies. I love that the veggies in this are relatively hearty, which means it keeps well in the fridge. I use red cabbage, orange and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. It is bright, vibrant, and amazing.
- Fresh herbs: This salad is loaded with fresh herbs, fresh parsley, fresh basil, and fresh chives or green onions.
- Dressing: You can make your own dressing or use your favorite Italian dressing.
- A Quality Chef Knife: There are a lot of things to chop and dice, so a good knife is a must.
- Large Mixing Bowl: This is a big salad, and you want to make sure you have room to mix it all up!
- Flexible Cutting Boards: This makes it easy to chop, then transfer the food right into the bowl. Genius, if you don’t have flexible cutting boards, now is the time.
How to Make Couscous Salad
Making this couscous salad is simple. It is mostly just chopping and mixing. It is made with tender and flavorful Israeli couscous, a delightful blend of wholesome ingredients such as colorful veggies, red cabbage, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, and green onions tossed together with herbs and a tasty vinaigrette dressing. It will delight your tastebuds, and is so simple to make.
Step One: Make the Israeli Couscous
The first thing you do for this salad is prepare the Israeli couscous. It is made by first toasting the pearls, then softening them up with water like you would any dry pasta. You want to make it and set it aside so it can cool before adding the vegetables. I have also found it is nice to flavor the couscous with some salt and pepper, and a little dressing before mixing it with the rest.
Step Two: Chop the Vegetables and Herbs
Next, chop everything up. This is the most time consuming part. You want to try for small and uniform pieces so each bite gets a nice variety of flavors.
Step Three: Mix Together with Dressing
The last step is to simply mix it all together in a nice big bowl with the dressing. You can refrigerate it for later, or serve immediately.
This recipe is so perfect for summer lunches, BBQ’s, potlucks, and more and I love pairing it with:
Tips and Tricks
Making this recipe is Eazy Peazy, but here are a few tips:
- Cool Couscous: The couscous should be cooked and cooled before tossing with the salad. When I am in a hurry, and I know we will be eating all of it in the first sitting, I will toss it together with the couscous still warm. But if I am prepping ahead, I will put the couscous in the fridge while I chop the vegetables and herbs. That way it won’t wilt the herbs or mess with the integrity of the tomatoes when mixed together.
- Chop Uniformly: Uniformly sized pieces of the various vegetables is key to a great bite. You do not want a huge chunk of pepper, for instance, and miss the tomato completely. So, small, uniform chopping is great. Consider getting a veggie chopper like this Chopper if you struggle with uniformity.
- Dress for Success: Add the dressing, taste the salad and add more or more seasonings if desired. You want to customize this to your liking.
- Save for Later: Because the majority of the vegetables added are hearty, this salad keeps well. We often keep it 3-5 days and eat it all week. But if you want to keep it longer, add the tomatoes when serving, rather than into the whole bowl.
Make Ahead and Storage
How to make this recipe ahead of time:
Simply prepare the recipe according to the instructions, and cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
This recipe does not freeze well.
Other Great Recipes:
Israeli Couscous Salad
- 2 cups Israeli Couscous uncooked
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 1/2 cups Water
- 1 cup Grape tomatoes quartered
- 1 1/2 cups Cucumbers diced
- 1 1/2 cups Bell Pepper Yellow, orange, and red
- 1 cup Red Cabbage chopped
- 1/2 cup Green Onion sliced
- 1 cup Fresh Parsley chopped finely
- 1/4 cup Fresh Basil chiffoned
- 1/3 cup Italian Dressing of choice, or more (divided)
- In a large skillet, add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and fry couscous over medium-high heat until browned and toasted on all sides.
- Add salt to the pan, and 2 1/2 cups of already boiling water. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, leave covered, let sit for 3 minutes.
- Place couscous in large mixing bowl and toss with 2 Tbs of the Italian dressing, and place in fridge to allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, chop up all the vegetables and herbs into uniform sized pieces.
- Remove couscous from refrigerator, and add all of the herbs and vegetables to the bowl, and stir together with the remaining dressing.
- Taste, adjust flavor with added dressing or salt and pepper, and serve.
- Store leftovers, or if preparing for later, cover and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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