As a foodie, one of my favorite regions for bright and fresh flavors is the Mediterranean. This couscous salad recipe is a perfect example of those flavors. While perhaps not fully traditional to the region, it still exhibits all of the key elements I love. Bright, light, easy to make, and loaded with nutrients, fiber, and protein. That, to me, is the perfect lunch or side dish. This recipe is sure to please and a perfect introduction to couscous for anyone new to this grain.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad
The key notes of Mediterranean cooking are fresh herbs, lemon, and olive oil. While this isn't in every recipe, it's a central focus that is most often found in anything labeled as Mediterranean, and this doesn't disappoint. Using couscous, a small grain made of crushed durum wheat formed into balls is a great base that while pasta, is lighter and often preferred.
This recipe creates a lovely side to any dish, but we especially love it with these roasted Greek chicken thighs or as a starter for this Greek moussaka casserole recipe. An excellent way to add more vegetables to your day, it's a salad everyone will enjoy.
What Kind of Couscous Should I Use?
For this recipe, you will most likely want to reach for Moroccan couscous as it is the smallest and cooks the fastest. Israeli couscous is another option, but would probably require a longer cook time than shown in the recipe. You can also use ready-made couscous in packets that are just heat and serve if you prefer. All methods will work with this recipe.
Is Couscous More Healthy Than Rice?
Healthy is up to the individual. In this case, couscous compared to brown or white rice in cup to cup manner is lower in calories and carbohydrates. This is appealing to some and makes it a preferred choice, but does not necessarily mean that it is truly healthier. Use your judgment according to your own dietary needs to determine if it is a healthier option for you as an individual.
Can I Use All Dried Herbs In This Salad?
I love the bright flavor of fresh herbs, but they aren't always available in our local grocery store. So, using dried herbs is often the best choice. For this, I find that the only one that makes a significant difference in flavor is the fresh basil. There is something about it that really ups the flavor.
If herbs are not available fresh in your grocery store, you can substitute dry herbs in place. The best ratio for this is to substitute ⅓ the amount of dry as you would fresh. So, for every 1 tablespoon fresh, you would only use 1 teaspoon dry.
What Type of Olives Should I Use in This Salad?
While you can use a green or black olive, the important thing to remember is to use something that is in brine. The brine olive fits this flavor profile the best. I like to use Kalamata olives, but when not available a brined green olive is a good substitute in a salad like this one. Choose what works best for you and mix into the salad as directed.
How Long Does Couscous Salad Last?
As with most cold salads, this couscous salad is good for 4-5 days when stored in an airtight container. It is best within the first 2 days, but when fluffed with a fork can be a delicious dish for up to 5 days. If preparing ahead of time to serve the next day, you may also want to prepare the salad but leave the dressing off until just before serving. This helps it stay fresh longer and can make it brighter.
What Is Couscous Salad Made Of?
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Garlic powder
- Dried oregano
- Black pepper
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red onion
Handy Kitchen Tools
How to Make Mediterranean Couscous Salad
In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add the couscous and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until the couscous begins to smell nutty.
Add the water, and a pinch of salt, reduce heat to below and cover.
Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
Clean and prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into bite-sized pieces.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, thyme, salt, and black pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the couscous, vegetables, and dressing.
Mix well then fold in feta, basil, and olives before serving.
More Tasty Salad Recipes
Salads are truly one of the most misunderstood dishes. They are more than just lettuce and a creamy dressing. Below you will find more of our favorite salads featuring delicious flavors, tons of bright vegetables, and even some favorite fruits or proteins. Adding salads to your menu doesn't have to be limited. Instead, mix up things with a variety of vegetables, proteins, and flavors to make them exciting and delicious to serve.
- Vietnamese Steak and Noodle Salad
- Beetroot and Feta Salad
- Persian Shirazi Salad
- Cucumber Pomegranate Salad
- Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites)
- 1 cup couscous
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ⅔ cup water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- ½ red onion, chopped
- ¼ cup olives
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Ingredients for Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 thyme sprigs, chopped
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add the couscous and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until the couscous begins to smell nutty.
- Add the water, and a pinch of salt, reduce heat to below, and cover.
- Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
- Clean and prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into bite sized pieces.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, thyme, salt, and black pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the couscous, vegetables, and dressing. Mix well then fold in feta, basil, and olives before serving.
Best served chilled.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 385Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 425mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g