Mediterranean Couscous makes a perfect light lunch, meatless meal, or side dish. Prepared with tomatoes, spinach, white beans, and fresh lemon juice, this fresh couscous salad is not only delicious, it is easy to make.
Couscous is a form of pasta that cooks up super fast and makes a great base for a fresh salad. When prepared with classic Mediterranean flavors, this simple side dish becomes a simple, flavorful dish. It makes a perfect side dish for Chicken Gyros or Greek Chicken.
I often find myself looking for easy, healthy side dishes to serve my family at dinner time.
Couscous makes a perfect side dish for busy nights, as it cooks in just minutes. But it can be a bit boring when simply cooked alone.
However, when paired with Mediterranean flavors, couscous is no longer boring. In fact, this light couscous salad can easily become the star of dinner!
There is nothing complicated about making couscous salad. But the trick to making couscous taste good, is adding lots of seasonings and fresh ingredients.
Lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh tomatoes flavor the couscous perfectly. While spinach adds nutrients and white beans make this couscous salad a bit heartier.
- Couscous: You can find couscous typically with pasta and rice at the grocery store. It can be labeled Israeli Couscous or Pearl Couscous and has been steamed at least twice and then dried, so it only requires being plumped it up with boiling water.
- Lemon Dressing: The dressing is a simple mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and red pepper flakes. Don't be tempted to use anything but fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
- Cannellini Beans: White beans are optional, but add a lot of texture, fiber, and heartiness to this easy side dish.
- Spinach: Feel free to use fresh or frozen spinach in this easy side dish.
- Toppings: Grape tomatoes, sliced olives, and feta all make great additions to this simple salad. Omit the feta cheese for Dairy Free Couscous Salad, or change it up and use Parmesan Cheese.
How to Make Couscous Salad
- Couscous cooks up super fast. In fact, it only needs to sit in boiling liquid for several minutes. I recommend using stock to cook the couscous, as it will help to add flavor to an otherwise dull grain.
- Once the couscous has fluffed up and absorbed the cooking liquid fluff with a fork and gently stir in the spinach and white beans into the warm couscous to warm the beans through and slightly wilt the greens.
- Transfer to a serving or storage dish that can be covered. Refrigerate the couscous for at least 30 minutes, to cool.
- While the couscous is cooling, whisk together the dressing and chop any toppings you are using.
- Once the couscous is cooled toss the couscous with the lemon dressing. Stir in the olives, peppers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with feta and fresh parsley if desired right before serving.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
Mediterranean Couscous Salad
For the Lemon Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- Bring vegetable stock to a boil.
- Stir in couscous spinach to boiling stock and cover. Turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Once couscous is cooked, fluff with a fork and gently stir in fresh spinach and white beans.
- Transfer the couscous to a storage container and cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to cool.
- Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes.
- Once cooled, remove the couscous from the refrigerator and stir in the lemon dressing. Add the olives, peppers, and tomatoes and gently stir to distribute among the salad. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve or proceed with serving.
- When ready to serve, fluff the couscous salad with a fork and sprinkle with feta cheese if desired and serve.
- Couscous salad can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. It can not be frozen.
- If the salad appears dry after refrigeration, drizzle with olive oil and fluff with a fork.
- Fresh spinach is best, but if you don't have it on hand, you can use ½ cup defrosted and drained frozen spinach. Add to the boiling stock at the same time you add the couscous. If using frozen spinach, add before bringing the stock to a boil.
This post was originally published in 2018 but was updated in 2020 with new tips.