An easy couscous salad packed with Mediterranean flavors. This couscous salad recipe comes together in only 15 minutes and makes an amazing side dish.
It’s great to see you love our Mediterranean recipes as much as we do. Mediterranean cuisine offers many salad recipes that are so versatile and delicious. Some popular and tasty Mediterranean salad recipes are Fattoush salad, Tabouli salad, Greek chickpea salad and Mediterranean potato salad. All these salads are made with fresh ingredients and are packed with flavor thanks to their zesty, bright dressings.
A delicious couscous salad that you’ll love!
One of the reasons that I keep making this salad is that it comes together in no time. It’s also very healthy and versatile because you can have it as a nice side dish, or an appetizer. This vegetarian couscous salad also makes a great lunch or dinner on its own.
I love adding as many vegetables as possible to my couscous salad. From fresh vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes to marinated ones like olives and artichokes, I love adding them all. Finished with a zesty lemon and sumac dressing, this Mediterranean couscous salad makes the best side dish.
What is couscous?
Couscous is made of semolina which is the hard cracked wheat made from the first crushing in the milling process. In the olden days, couscous was made by hand and it required a lot of labor and long hours of drying in the sun. Now couscous is made with machines. Couscous is made from the mixture of semolina and water and is very versatile.
Couscous is very popular in Northern Africa especially Morocco. It can be served as a main or side dish alongside vegetables, meat and even fruit and it can be served warm or cold. It’s also common to use couscous in soups and stews. You can find couscous in almost every supermarket in the rice, pasta or international foods aisle.
How to make couscous
Couscous is unbelievably easy to prepare. The ratio of couscous to water is 1:1 1/2. Make sure you don’t use too much water otherwise there will be excess water in the couscous which would make it mushy and not fluffy.
To make couscous:
- Place one cup dry couscous in a large bowl and pour 1 1/2 cup boiling water into the bowl.
- Lightly stir the couscous, cover and let it sit for ten minutes.
- Using a fork, fluff the couscous very well and make sure it’s not stuck together.
You can use couscous right away or refrigerate it for up to three days and use it in different recipes. Couscous on it’s own doesn’t have a special flavor so you can easily add flavors to it using salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, sumac and herbs.
What goes into couscous salad?
The base of this easy Mediterranean salad is couscous which is absolutely easy to prepare as I mentioned above. I like to prepare couscous the first thing so it cools completely as I proceed with the recipe which includes chopping the vegetables we’re going to use in the recipe.
To make this Mediterranean couscous salad, you need
- Olives: I like using pitted Kalamata olives that I cut in half.
- Artichokes hearts: the ones that are in olive oil.
- Cucumber: both English or Persian (mini) cucumbers would work.
- Tomato: Cherry, Roma or Campari tomatoes would work.
- Red onion: Optional, but I love it as it gives great flavor.
- Herbs: such as parsley, cilantro, mint and green onions.
We love this Mediterranean salad so much that we have it at least three times a month. It’s simple, easy, full of veggies and amazing flavors thanks to olives, artichokes and of course the delicious dressing!
Can I make Mediterranean couscous salad ahead of time?
Yes, you can make Mediterranean salad with couscous 24 hours before serving and add more dressing right before serving.
Couscous salad dressing
The dressing for this couscous salad is so good! This Mediterranean dressing is a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sumac, salt and pepper. This dressing is so delicious and easy to make that I always keep a jar of it in the fridge and use it for any salad that I make. I love the tangy and fresh flavor it has which compliments the smooth texture of it. The combination of garlic, sumac and olive oil is definitely a winner! If you haven’t tried sumac before, you must. It’s tangy, zesty and gives a nice kick to the dressing.
Additions to couscous salad
This easy homemade couscous salad is so versatile and you can add different ingredients to it such as:
- Grilled chicken or leftover chicken
- Grilled vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Dried fruit such as raisins and apricots
- Nuts such as almonds, toasted pine nuts and walnuts.
What to serve with Mediterranean couscous salad
This couscous salad makes a great side dish for many Mediterranean dishes. It would also be perfect to serve with grilled food. We love serving this salad with these dishes:
- Chicken kebabs
- Mediterranean chicken
- Grilled marinated leg of lamb
- Greek chicken souvlaki
- Grilled salmon shish kabobs
- Greek Salmon Salad
Can I freeze this salad?
It’s best to eat couscous salad (or any salad) within 48 hours and avoid freezing it since it will lose its flavor and texture because tomatoes will become grainy and cucumbers don’t freeze well at all. What you can do is to prepare the couscous ahead of time (24 hours) and then assemble the salad when you’re ready to eat. This way the salad will stay and taste fresh when served.
Looking for more Mediterranean recipes?
- Tzatziki recipe
- Mujadara recipe
- Manakish Zaatar
- Traditional Greek Salad Recipe
- Mediterranean oven roasted vegetables
Notes and tips to make Mediterranean couscous salad recipe
- You can make the couscous ahead of time for this salad and simply mix it with chopped vegetables the day you’re planning to serve it.
- To make the couscous dressing, you can place all the ingredients in a small jar, secure the lid and shake well for about a minute or two.
- I like to chop the vegetables quite small so every bite contains almost all the vegetables. However, I only cut the olive in half.
- This couscous Mediterranean salad is perfect for barbecues and potlucks. Make a big batch and take it to the party, everyone loves it.
- If you like spicy couscous salad, add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to the salad dressing.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad Recipe
- 1 cup couscous See Note #1
- 1 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 cup kalamata olives pitted
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1/2 English cucumber See Note #2
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup green onion chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion chopped
- 1 cup artichoke hearts in olive oil cut into smaller pieces
Couscous Salad Dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 lemon juice of
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Place the couscous in a large bowl. Pour boiling water on it and stir using a fork.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice kalamata olive in half and set aside.
- Slice tomatoes into small pieces and set aside.
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and cut each half into three pieces lengthwise. Cut the cucumber into 1/3 inch pieces.
- Once ten minutes has passed, fluff the cooked couscous using a fork and make sure the grains are not stuck together.
- Add in the olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, parsley, green onion and artichoke hearts. Mix well using two large spoons.
Couscous Salad Dressing
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl using a whisk. (See note #3)
- Pour the dressing over the couscous salad and mix well so all ingredients are incorporated.
- Chill the salad in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Serve cold.
- Use fine couscous and not pearl couscous for this recipe.
- You can also use 2 Persian or mini cucumbers.
- You can place all the ingredients for the couscous salad dressing in a jar, secure the lid and shake very well for a minute or two.