This Mediterranean couscous salad is a refreshing cold salad that's perfect for a summer Italian dinner. Packed with Mediterranean veggies and tossed in a zesty lemon dressing with fresh herbs, it makes for a delicious and filling vegetarian meal.
This Mediterranean couscous salad is an excellent summer salad that you can make ahead of time and take with you on a picnic. The salad is a colorful and delicious mix of cooked couscous, fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and protein-rich chickpeas. You can also add crumbled feta cheese for extra flavor. The lemon herb dressing, adds a zesty tang that perfectly complements the veggies and couscous.
It's not only flavorful but also a great source of protein, making it a perfect meal option for those who want to add more plant-based foods to their diet. The best part is that it's quick and easy to make. It's a great option for a healthy lunch or dinner.
If you look for more healthy summer salads, make sure to try this Grilled Vegetables Farro Salad and this Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad.
Is couscous Italian?
Couscous is a traditional North African dish made from tiny grains of semolina flour, typically served as a side dish or mixed with vegetables and meat as a main course. It has been a staple food in the region for centuries and remains a popular dish across North Africa and the Middle East.
Pearl couscous, instead, is a type of small, round pasta made from semolina flour and wheat. Unlike traditional couscous, which is hand-rolled, pearl couscous is machine-made and has a larger, rounder shape. In Italy, pearl couscous is known as fregula, and it is a traditional ingredient in Sardinian cuisine. Fregula is mostly eaten warm, just like most pasta dishes, like this Fregula with Clams.
- Couscous: You can use normal or whole grain or pearl couscous for this recipe. If you use pearl couscous though, you'll need to add a few minutes of cooking time since the grains are larger.
- Chickpeas: I used canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), as they are ready to go. You simply drain, rinse, and add to the salad. But you can use also dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender.
- Cherry Tomatoes: I love the pungent flavor of cherry tomatoes in salads. If you instead prefer a milder taste, you can use chopped Roma tomatoes.
- Onion: I used white onion in this recipe because I wanted a milder taste. But you can also use red onion, green onion, chives, or shallots.
- Cucumber: Fresh and crunchy cucumber is delicious in any Mediterranean salad.
- Feta: Feta cheese is typically Greek but is so delicious in salads with tomatoes and cucumbers. You also use mozzarella cheese, grilled halloumi, goat cheese, or marinated feta.
- Lemon: I love the zesty notes of lemon with vinegar in the dressing. It goes so well with couscous. But you can skip it if you prefer a less acidic dressing, using only olive oil and herbs.
- Herbs: Parsley, basil, and mint are the perfect herbs to use in this couscous salad. You can use fresh or frozen herbs. Do not use dried herbs as they won't give the same flavor. You can also use other fresh herbs you like like tarragon, thyme, marjoram, or oregano.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Instructions with photos
This vegetarian couscous bowl is ready in no time, in just a few easy steps!
In a bowl, add the couscous and the hot vegetable stock. Let it rest until fully absorbed.
Chop all the vegetables and add them to the cooled couscous. Add the chickpeas and crumble the feta cheese.
In a separate bowl, add the finely minced herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and vinegar.
Pour the dressing over the couscous salad and mix well.
There are so many ways to customize and make variations of this delicious couscous salad! Here are just a few ideas:
- Chicken: Grilled chicken would be so delicious in this couscous salad! You can marinate it with extra lemon herb dressing for a delicious result.
- Seafood: You can use grilled salmon, shrimps, or even canned tuna in this salad.
- Vegan: Skip the feta cheese to make this couscous salad vegan.
- Spicy: Add some chili pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce in the dressing for a spicy variation.
- Curry: I love curried couscous. You can add a tablespoon of yellow curry powder to the couscous before adding the vegetable stock.
- Olives: The perfect addition to this salad would be some Greek Kalamata olives or Italian Taggiasca olives.
This Italian couscous salad keeps well in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or in a closed container for up to 4 days.
I do not recommend freezing this salad as the ingredients would become soggy once thawed.
💭 FAQ & Tips
Israeli couscous is also called pearl couscous and technically it's more similar to pasta than traditional couscous. It's larger and has a more toasted flavor.
Yes, you can definitely make this salad in advance and it will keep well covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Chickpeas and Feta already provide a good amount of protein. But additional grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp would also be delicious!
This salad works great on its own as a delicious and filling lunch. But you can also serve it as a side dish for a barbecue or potluck. Check out more summer recipes in this post about 25 Best BBQ & Picnic Recipes.
You can also serve it in small portions as part of an Aperitivo buffet. Read here if you want to learn more about how to make the perfect Italian Aperitivo at home.
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Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- 1 cup Couscous
- 1 cup Vegetable Stock
- ½ Onion
- ½ Cucumber
- 4.5 oz Chickpeas
- 3.5 oz Feta cheese
- Cherry Tomatoes
For the Lemon Herb Dressing:
- 5 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
- 1 Lemon, juice
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ cup Parsley
- ¼ cup Basil
- ¼ cup Mint
- In a large bowl, add the couscous. Bring to simmer the vegetable stock, then pour it over the couscous and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Mix with a fork to break any lump. Set aside to cool.
- Finely chop the onion, chop the cucumber and cherry tomatoes, and drain the chickpeas. Add them to the bowl with the cooled couscous, then crumble the feta cheese with your hands.
- In a separate bowl, add the finely minced herbs, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well then pour the dressing over the couscous salad and mix well.
- Serve immediately at room temperature or set it in the fridge covered with plastic wrap to serve cold.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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