Mediterranean Couscous Salad ~ plain old pasta salad mixes it up with a zesty tabbouleh and a glossy pearl couscous. No mayo need apply.
Couscous is originally from North Africa, and is actually pasta that’s been rolled into tiny grains. It’s super quick cooking and makes a really convenient side dish. I’ve used Israeli couscous for this salad, which is a variation that has larger grains. It has a wonderful texture and makes a nice change from the standby pasta salad. It makes a beautiful presentation for entertaining, too.
The lemony minty flavors of tabbouleh are refreshing and unexpected in a pasta salad, and people really love it.
Try my traditional TABBOULEH recipe if you’d like to see the original inspiration for this salad.
- 1 cup pearl or Israeli couscous (this one has larger grains)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup finely chopped baby cucumber (or any thin skinned cucumber like Persian or English)
- 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely minced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup roasted pine nuts (optional)
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives (optional)
- Cook the couscous according to the package instructions. Usually it simmers, covered, in 1 1/4 cups boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes until the water is absorbed.
- Put the hot couscous in a bowl and add the olive oil, lemon, sea salt and pepper. Give it a toss to combine and set aside.
- Add the vegetables, parsley and mint to the couscous and toss well. Taste for seasoning and refrigerate the salad for at least a couple of hours to chill thoroughly.
- Sprinkle in the feta, and the pine nuts and olives if using, when you are ready to serve.
- Don’t skimp on the herbs; they’re key to the flavor. Likewise the lemon. This is a good opportunity to use those pretty multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes, too!