Couscous Almondine Salad is a completely new take on your same old pasta salad ~ this no mayo recipe is perfect for summer barbecues, potlucks, and picnics…it’s an easy side dish that goes with everything!
This Middle Eastern inspired salad is just packed with flavor, and it’s not the same old been-there-done-that pasta salad you’ve been making for years (the first taste will tell you that you’re not in Kansas anymore.) There are so many unusual elements to this Couscous Almondine Salad I hardly know where to start — how about with the intense sweetness of the tiny currents, the crunch of the slivered almonds, or the aromatic allspice and cinnamon spiked vinaigrette? I improvised on the ingredients list of the salad that I buy so often for a last minute lunch. I added gorgeous dried peaches and plums from my farmers market, and some plump green raisins that I had in the cupboard. The spices add an interesting warm note to the traditional lemon dressing. You’re going to love this!
This couscous almondine salad is a great lunch choice for work or school because it keeps so well. You can dress it ahead of time, or bring a little container of vinaigrette to toss it fresh.
Don’t get bogged down in the exact ingredients for this recipe, what’s important is that you have the balance of flavors and textures with some sort of onion (green or white will do in place of the red,) crunchy nuts, a couple of fresh veggies, and a dried fruit. Here are a few other add-ins that you could use:
- black olives
- feta cheese
- pine nuts
- pomegranate seeds
- bell peppers
- dried cherries or cranberries
- dried apricots
Couscous is one of the easiest grains on the planet to make. Just drop it in boiling water, cover, and set aside for 15 minutes. Then fluff. It makes a great base for salads because the little grains of pasta soak up flavors so well.
TIP: I used my Vidalia Chop Wizard to get everything beautifully diced. I even chopped my dried fruit and tomatoes with it, it’s awesome. I like that it has two settings, one for a regular dice and one for a really fine dice. I could never get such a perfect cut with a knife and it’s the perfect tool for a salad where you want everything even and finely chopped.
- 3 cups cooked couscous
- 1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
- 1/2 cup finely diced tomato
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup dried currents
- 1/4 cup dried peaches, finely diced
- 1/4 cup dried plums, finely diced
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Put the couscous in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix the dressing ingredients and taste to see if you need to adjust any of the ingredients. You can dress the salad immediately or wait until you are ready to eat. Use just enough to moisten and flavor the salad, but don't drown it.
- Keeps for a week covered in the refrigerator.
- Be sure to start with plain couscous, not one of the flavored varieties.
- Pack the salad in individual plastic containers or mason jars for quick grab and go lunches.
- You can substitute quinoa or cracked wheat (bulgur) for the couscous.
- If you like the bowls I used in this post, you can find out about them here.