Mediterranean Couscous Salad ~ plain old pasta salad mixes it up with a zesty tabbouleh and a glossy pearl couscous. No mayo means it’s the perfect choice for barbecues and picnics.
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. And for a pretty variation, check out my Jeweled Tabbouleh, it’s topped with colorful fruits and nuts.
- 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!