This Israeli couscous salad is a healthy and easy to make side dish. Full of fresh ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, dairy free feta, onions and fresh herbs. Topped with a lemon, oil and vinegar dressing. Easy side dish for the summer.
This recipe is
- full of fresh vegetables
- quick and easy
- a great side dish or lunch idea
Pearl couscous origins
Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous or Ptitim is a small, pearl shaped type of pasta with a slightly chewy texture. It's made from semolina flour. This is the same wheat flour that is used to make pasta.
It was first made in Israel in the 1950's when there was a shortage of rice, and they needed a way to feed the influx of new immigrants into the country.
Pearl couscous is different from regular couscous. Traditional Moroccan couscous originated around the 11th and 13th century. It has a small pearls that are more irregular in shape than pearl couscous. They are both made from the same flour, though.
Ingredients and substitutions
This couscous salad is full of bright, fresh flavors, simple ingredients and is an easy and versatile dish. Feel free to add or swap out any of your favorite vegetables.
- Israeli pearl couscous - this can be found in many grocery stores now, or ordered online. This couscous has a great texture
- Red onion
- Roasted red peppers - I use jarred ones to make it easier.
- Kalamata olives
- Cucumbers - I prefer using English or Persian cucumbers that have the thinner skin.
- Chickpeas - this will add a nice boost of protein and fiber.
- Tomatoes - grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes taste amazing in this.
- Fresh herbs - I love using fresh mint and fresh parsley. Lots of fresh herbs add so much flavor to this salad recipe.
- Dairy free feta cheese - I love the Violife or Trader Joe's brands. Amazing!
- Vegetable broth
- Olive oil - extra virgin will taste great in this and add more flavor.
- Vinegar - red wine vinegar tastes the best in this salad.
- Fresh lemon juice
If you want to add some extra flavor to the couscous, toast it in some oil on medium heat for 5 minutes or until some pieces turn lightly golden brown. This will add a slightly nutty flavor. Then add the vegetable broth and cook for 8 minutes or until the couscous is cooked and water is absorbed.
There's no need to drain the water from the couscous. It should absorb into it.
Let the couscous cool down for 10 minutes in a large bowl before adding the other ingredients. Fluff it up with a fork after cooking to make some nice, fluffy couscous.
Arugula would also taste amazing in this recipe, but would wilt a little, if you're making it ahead of time.
To add even more lemony flavor, add some lemon zest to the dressing.
I love using this lemon juicer. I absolutely hate when I get lemon juice on my hands, especially when I have a cut.
Storing and making ahead
Fridge - This tastes amazing the next day. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
Freezer - This wouldn't freeze very well, due to the watery vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers.
Making ahead - To make this ahead, just cook up the couscous and chop the vegetables. When you're ready to assemble, add it all to a mixing bowl with the dressing.
Serve this with
This simple side dish will go great with a main course like:
Yes! This does really well in the instant pot. To make this in the instant pot, just add two cups of couscous, 2 and ½ cups of water or vegetable broth, one tablespoon of oil. Add the lid, seal and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release and fluff it up with a fork.
No, since it's made from the same flour as pasta, it isn't gluten free.
Israeli couscous is generally pretty healthy. It's whole grain version boasts a lot of fiber, about 8 grams of fiber in a cup (2 grams in non-whole wheat couscous).
It also provides 6 grams of protein and 79% of the RDA of selenium in one cup. It also provides some B vitamins and is fat free.
When you add a lot of vegetables and beans to couscous, like in this easy recipe, it makes a healthy, well rounded meal.
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Israeli couscous salad
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- In a pan, add 1 teaspoon of oil and heat to medium heat. Add the couscous and saute until some pieces turn lightly brown and they start to smell slightly nutty. This should be about 5 mintues2 cups pearl couscous
- Add in the vegetable broth and cover. Bring it to a simmer. Cook for 8-12 minutes or until the couscous softens and the water is absorbed.2½ cups vegetable broth
- Chop up and prepare all of your vegetables. Add the vegetables, chickpeas, salt and feta cheese to a large mixing bowl. Add the pearl couscous after it cooks and cools for about 10 minutes.16 ounces chickpeas, ½ cup roasted red peppers, ½ cup cucumbers, ½ cup cherry tomatoes, ½ cup fresh herbs, ½ red onions, ½ cup dairy free feta cheese, ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small mason jar and stir. Add it to the mixing bowl and mix well. Taste and add more salt if needed.¼ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 lemon
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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