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Mediterranean Couscous Salad

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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.

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3.34 from 3 votes

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


  • 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!


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  • Reply
    March 8, 2019 at 4:12 am

    You know it’s good when someone gets up in the middle of the night and eats leftovers. I’m glad I put some aside to take for lunch today. Thanks for a great, easy, and beautiful recipe!

  • 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
    Heather @girlichef.com
    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!