Delicious Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Delicious Mediterranean couscous salad topped with a flavorful homemade lemon herb dressing. Small durum wheat semolina is prepared on a stovetop before being tossed with vibrant veggies, olives, feta cheese, and hearty garbanzo beans. This healthy side dish packs a real crunch!

couscous salad

This delicious Mediterranean couscous salad is the ideal combination of healthy vegetables, protein, and a burst of flavor. Easy couscous salad is one of those amazing healthy recipes. As a bonus, it doesn’t take long to prepare – just a few minutes for instant couscous to be ready. The grains absorb the citrus dressing and add a nutty note. This quick and light vegetable-packed side dish is a great way to get a nutritious meal on the table.

The vegetables in this salad are a great source of phytonutrients and fiber. You can mix and match the vegetables to suit your taste, adding more of the ones you prefer. For example, if you’re a fan of cucumbers, you can add more. The veggies are chopped into small pieces and then tossed with the couscous.

The dressing is made with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. It adds a bright flavor to the salad without being overpowering. The dressing flavors work perfectly with the nutty couscous and the crunchy vegetables.

This salad is a great way to get a nutritious meal on the table in no time. The couscous and the vegetables are delicious and perfect for any meal. You can also serve it as a light lunch or dinner. It’s so versatile that you can mix it with different couscous salad ingredients such as zucchini or dressings to keep it interesting.

You can also add some protein to this salad if you want. Options like cooked chickpeas, feta cheese or parmesan cheese, or grilled chicken will all work nicely. For a vegan couscous salad, just leave out the feta or use vegan cheese. The protein will add an extra boost of nutrients and make the dish more filling.

This Mediterranean couscous salad is a fantastic way to get a nutritious and delicious meal on the table quickly. The combination of the nutty couscous, the fresh vegetables, and the citrus dressing make it a crowd-pleasing dish that’s sure to be a hit. You can easily customize it with your favorite ingredients to make it your own.

Making Mediterranean Couscous

  • Let the couscous soak in hot water until its texture becomes tender.
  • Fluff the couscous out using a fork and let it cool.
  • Mix the couscous with veggies, fresh herbs, garbanzo beans, and feta.
  • Mix the lemon juice, zest, salt, vinegar, and pepper to form your dressing.
  • Toss the couscous mix with your fresh lemon herb dressing.

Is Couscous a Type of Pasta?

Couscous and pasta are two of the most popular staple foods in the Mediterranean region. While both are staples in Mediterranean cuisine, there are some critical differences between the two.

Couscous is made from semolina, a coarsely ground flour from durum wheat. It is traditionally steamed and served as a side dish, although it can also be used in salads, soups, and other dishes. It is popular in North African cuisines, particularly in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

On the other hand, pasta is made from durum wheat and water. It is available in various shapes and sizes and can be served with different sauces and toppings. It is most commonly associated with Italian cuisine but is also popular in other parts of the world, including North Africa.

Couscous is much smaller than pasta and has a light, airy texture. It is usually steamed for 15-20 minutes and can be served with various sauces and herbs. It is also easy to prepare and can be made in various flavors.

Pasta is usually boiled and can be served with various sauces and toppings. It is usually thicker than couscous and has a chewy texture. It is often served with a sauce, such as marinara or Alfredo, or topped with vegetables or cheese.

Couscous is a healthier option than pasta, as it is low in fat and calories. It is also high in fiber and protein, making it a more filling option.

Pasta is generally higher in calories and carbohydrates than couscous. It also contains more sodium, which can concern those watching their sodium intake.

Overall, couscous and pasta are two of the most popular staples in Mediterranean cuisine. While both are delicious, they have critical nutrition, texture, and preparation differences. Each has its unique flavor and can be enjoyed in various dishes.

couscous recipe

How to Cook Couscous

Perfect couscous is easy to prepare, so you can make it quickly and conveniently. For the stovetop method, you need to cover it with hot water or vegetable broth and let it soak for five minutes – it’ll be ready to add to your salad once cooled. For the microwave method, you have to heat some water to a near boil, mix in the couscous, cover, and wait until it’s light and fluffy. It’s a versatile and convenient starch that absorbs the dressing to boost your salad’s flavor.

Not only is couscous an excellent salad addition, but it can also be used in various other dishes. You can use it as a side dish, as the main ingredient in a pilaf, in soups and stews, or as a vegetable stuffing. It’s a great way to add texture and flavor to any meal. Plus, couscous is an excellent alternative for those looking for a gluten-free option.

Making Lemon Herb Dressing

Combining lemon juice and zest with herbs, red wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil produces a flavorful dressing that gives your salad a nice tang. All you have to do is whisk the ingredients together to create a simple emulsified salad dressing.

This recipe will make enough dressing to coat your salad, but if you want to serve more on the side, you can always double the measurements. Also, if you have extra slices of lemon to squeeze over your salad, they make a nice garnish.

The Ingredients You Need to Make Couscous Salad

To add Mediterranean flavors to your couscous, add a generous portion of red onion, red bell pepper, ripe Roma or cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives. To create fragrant aromas, you can also add freshly chopped herbs such as fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh dill, and fresh parsley. And using ingredients such as oregano gives everything a more umami taste. Chickpeas or garbanzo beans also deliver a meat-free protein source and a creamy texture. You can also switch fresh tomatoes to sun dried tomato and add chili flakes or green onion.

couscous recipes

Serve Couscous Salad with:

  • Moroccan Lamb Stew
  • Lamb Chops
  • Roasted Moroccan Chicken
  • Sign Berbere
  • Roasted veggies
  • Mashed Chickpeas and Broccoli
  • Moroccan Chicken Tagine
  • Beef Souvlaki kebabs
  • Falafels
  • Pasta salad
  • Moroccan chickpea stew
  • Ratatouille
  • Honey garlic glazed salmon
  • Moroccan-spiced pork meatballs
  • Sweet apricot and beef casserole
  • Moroccan olive and lamb tagine
  • Pear and Beef tagine
  • Apricot and lamb tagine
  • Moroccan seafood plater with mint and citrus
  • Moroccan couscous salad
  • Roasted pine nuts
  • Israeli couscous salad
  • Greek couscous salad

The Reason You Should Never Boil Instant Couscous

Since instant couscous is pre-cooked, unlike traditional couscous, you don’t have to simmer or boil it continuously. If you do, the texture becomes mushy from overcooking. You need to give it a simple stir and allow it to sit for a bit, as the hot water does the job just fine.

Now, as far as whether instant couscous is the same quality as traditional couscous, it depends on individual taste. Some people prefer the texture of traditional couscous, which is cooked for a longer time and has a more chewy texture. Instant couscous is quicker and easier to cook but may not be as flavourful. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

An instant couscous is an excellent option for those looking for a quick and easy meal. It’s made from pre-cooked, dehydrated grains of semolina, so all you need to do is add hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. Instant couscous is often used in salads and side dishes, but it can also be used as an accompaniment to a main dish.

The advantage of instant couscous over traditional couscous is that it’s much faster and easier to prepare, making it an excellent choice for busy cooks. It’s also much more versatile — you can add various ingredients to make it a complete meal. Instant couscous is also low in fat and calories, making it a healthy option.

On the other hand, traditional couscous is made from steamed durum wheat semolina. It’s usually cooked in a pot with liquid and then fluffed up with a fork. Traditional couscous is often used as a side dish but can also be used in soups and stews. Traditional couscous has a slightly firmer texture than instant couscous and can absorb more flavor from the other ingredients it’s cooked with.

Choosing between instant and traditional couscous comes down to personal preference. If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to wait for traditional couscous to cook, then instant couscous is the way to go. However, traditional couscous may be the better option if you want a more flavorful and satisfying dish.

couscous salad recipe

couscous salad recipe

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Try this delicious and easy recipe.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6
Calories 203 kcal


  • 1 2-3 Qt. saucepan



  • 1 cup water
  • ½ Tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup instant couscous


  • ½ cup English cucumber diced to ¼-inch, seeds removed
  • ½ cup Roma tomato diced to ¼-inch
  • ½ cup garbanzo beans canned, drained, and rinsed
  • ½ cup red bell pepper diced to ⅛-inch
  • ¼ cup red onion minced
  • ½ cup kalamata olives sliced and pitted
  • 2 Tbsp feta cheese
  • 1 Tsp chopped mint
  • 1 Tsp chopped parsley
  • 1 Tsp chopped basil

Lemon Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ Tsp black pepper
  • ¼ Tsp kosher salt



  • Bring salt, water, and olive oil to a roiling boil using a medium-sized saucepan. Pour in couscous and begin stirring immediately. Turn the heat off and cover.
  • Allow the couscous to sit until the texture becomes more tender. This usually takes about five minutes. Afterward, fluff couscous with a fork and then allow it to cool further.


  • Mix Couscous with cucumber, Roma or cherry tomato, bell pepper, garbanzo beans, black olives, red onions, fresh mint, parsley, basil, feta cheese, and oregano in a medium-sized bowl.

Lemon Dressing

  • Whisk lemon juice, zest, salt, vinegar, and pepper in a small-sized bowl. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil in slowly and continue whisking until the mixture thickens.
  • Pour your fresh lemon herb dressing over your summer couscous salad, and stir well to combine.


You can substitute Lebanese or Israeli pearl couscous salad for the instant couscous used in this recipe.
You can also use other vinegar, such as apple cider, balsamic, or white wine.
The measurements for the dressing can also be doubled if you want to serve some on the side.
MAKING IT LOW CARB: Instead of couscous, you can use 2½ cups of cauliflower rice. You can eat the cauliflower rice raw or sauté it, then mix it with your vegetables.
Serving Size: Approximately ⅔ cups.


Calories: 203kcalCarbohydrates: 27gFat: 72g
Keyword Mediterranean Couscus Salad
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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