This delicious couscous salad recipe makes for an easy weeknight meal. Ready in less than 30 minutes, it’s a dish that’s great for those days when you’re short on time.
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Use it up: Leftover pearl couscous can be used to create this pearl couscous and cauliflower salad with spiced chicken or this spiced beef salad. Leftover mint can be used in a refreshing and tasty fine and dandy cocktail.
While a regular couscous salad is already tasty, there’s something so special about pearl couscous. The texture of these delicate spheres in your mouth as you take a bite creates a delightful sensation as they burst, like tapioca pearls in a Boba tea, or pomegranate arils. And the best bit is that these little balls will also soak up any of the flavours that you add.
This simple couscous salad recipe is satisfying enough to enjoy as a fresh and tasty meal on its own but also works beautifully as a side dish alongside your favourite meat or meat substitute.
With ingredients like radishes, pearl couscous, cucumber and tomato, and flavours coming from lemon juice and fresh herbs, the salad has a Middle Eastern vibe that is similar to a Tabouli-style dish.
If you're after something with a little more punch, you could also try this spiced roast cauliflower and pearl couscous salad for more couscous salad ideas.
The most important ingredient in this recipe is, of course, the couscous. The answer to the common question ‒ “Is couscous gluten-free?” is simply no. Couscous consists of small balls made from durum wheat making it essentially a type of pasta. Sometimes known as Israeli couscous, pearl couscous are slightly larger balls of pasta with a bit more bite to them than its finer cousin. Pearl couscous can be enjoyed cold or hot and is often used as a side for Moroccan tagines or dishes like this spiced salmon, but with a texture that works perfectly in a salad.
The main difference you’ll notice between regular couscous and its larger cousin is how to cook pearl couscous. While the regular version will soak up boiled water or stock, the larger version requires a little extra cooking, so therefore needs to be boiled in stock or water. The great thing about this is that it will not only absorb a lot of flavour while cooking in stock, but it will continue to take in extra flavour from the lemon juice dressing.
If you can’t find pearl couscous then regular couscous, risoni or any other smaller pasta would work with the flavours in this couscous and cucumber salad, however, there would be an impact on the texture and mouthfeel.
The beauty of couscous salads is that this fresh summer favourite can be served in a variety of ways. You can enjoy a big bowl by itself for lunch or a light dinner, or serve it alongside a grilled steak or a Greek-style chicken and veggie tray bake. For a vegetarian meal, the salad’s flavours would work alongside this Mediterranean-style roasted eggplant.