Easy Couscous Salad with Lemon Dressing & Fresh Herbs
This quick and easy couscous salad recipe is fresh, healthy and deliciously addictive. The bright lemon dressing is made from only 4 simple ingredients.
I’ve been devouring couscous salads at home since I was a kid. I can remember chopping up celery and apple into tiny bits and grabbing handfuls of mint from the garden to toss with fluffy couscous in a garlicky dressing and then eating it by the bowlfuls. It was probably one of the more “exotic” dishes I ate in my small-town Canadian ’90s upbringing.
I still make versions of it every summer, with whatever fresh fruits and veggies I have on hand. (Fresh peaches? YES.) The only trick is getting lots of flavours and textures in the mix. I like to include something sweet (usually fruit, whether it’s a fresh or dried), something with crunch (hi, celery), and something nutty (toasted almonds!) plus a few things with punch (onion, herbs, and/or garlic).
What is Couscous Salad?
Couscous itself – itty bitty balls of pasta made from wheat semolina – calls Northern Africa and some areas of the Middle East home. It is traditionally served as a bed for warm spiced stews, meat or vegetables; not in salad. In North America, however, we more typically toss the tiny pasta with fresh vegetables, dried fruit and cheese then add a nice fresh vinaigrette.
The textural contrast of teensy, chewy bits interspersed with crunchy veggies and handfuls of fresh herbs is irresistible.
Couscous salad makes a perfect barbeque side dish or potluck contribution. Add a grilled chicken breast, and you’ve got a complete meal. Stuff leftovers into a pita with some hummus for lunch the next day.
My Easy, Go-To Couscous Salad Dressing Recipe
This simple lemon dressing is incredibly easy to throw together and requires only some good quality olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and some good salt and pepper.
Then, just whisk together and pour over your salad.
We add the herbs to the salad directly. There are so many bright flavours in the couscous salad between the onion and the herbs that uncomplicated salad dressing wants for nothing.
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- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1 cup dry couscous
- 1 shallot minced (or 1/4 medium red onion)
- 1 large stalk celery finely chopped
- 1 /2 cup chopped fruit (like peach, apple, apricot or 1/3 cup dried fruit)
- 1/2 cup herbs either parsley or 1/4 cup parsley and 1/4 cup mint
- 1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts (I used almonds, use your favourite)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- Bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then spread out on a baking sheet to cool it quickly.
- In a large bowl, toss cooled couscous with shallot, celery, fruit, herbs and nuts.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over couscous salad and toss well to combine.