Mediterranean Couscous Salad

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.

Mediterranean Couscous 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)


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!



  • Reply
    May 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    This dish was the highlight of today’s birthday lunch. Refreshing, crunchy, aromatic; just perfect! Thank you Sue!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Couscous and those beautiful heirloom tomatoes? I think this salad has everything I want in it. I would love to eat this all summer on hot afternoons.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I’m jealous of those beautiful tomatoes! Can’t wait for the harvest here. :) Those tomatoes plus Israeli couscous and fresh herbs–what’s not to love?

  • Reply
    May 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I love the large couscous too and I love a salad like this that can travel without the mayo. Great idea, beautiful colors, and I think everyone would be happy to dig in to this one :)

  • Reply
    Thyme (Sarah)
    May 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    This is such pretty dish! Perfect for summer gatherings. I’m going to bookmark it for Forth of July at the lake!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Beautiful recipe. Very tempting

  • Reply
    May 28, 2012 at 9:54 am

    i love those heirloom tomatoes! you’re doing a fine job of fulfilling my need for colorful cuisine, sue. :)

  • Reply
    Gerlinde in Dallas
    May 28, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I tried to make a salad with small heirloom tomatoes today, but I ended up eating most of the ones I picked (they were so good), so I gave up on the idea of making salad.. yours looks delicious!

  • Reply
    Lea Ann
    May 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I love that first photo of the tomatoes! I’m a big fan of Israeli couscous, so this is a must try for me. Pinned

  • Reply
    May 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    This looks light, bright, and flavourful! (I love pearl couscous!)

  • Reply
    Linda A. Thompson Ditch
    May 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    What a great idea to use couscous instead of pasta! I’ve been thinking about making a pasta salad with tomatoes and leftover feta cheese from my ultimate grilled cheese sandwich post, so I think I’ll play with the recipe and see what happens!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Oh! I just cleaned out a TON of magazines over the past few days…ripping out recipes as I went along…and I saved one very similar to this! I remember thinking that I needed to grab some israeli couscous and hit the farmers market for gorgeous tomatoes like yours. Absolutely stunning!

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