This super easy vegetable couscous salad recipe makes the perfect side dish for a summer BBQ. It can be pulled together in just 15 minutes and leftovers are brilliant in the lunchbox.
Last Updated: 28th February 2019
TOTAL TIME INVESTMENT: 15 MINUTES
Neither Mr Grumpy nor The Princess are big fans of couscous, although they will eat it under sufferance. Couscous is referred to as tasteless misery sand in our house thanks to the joy of the television.
I, on the other hand, quite enjoy couscous. And I am a particular fan of the speed at which couscous can be prepared. So until either of them decide to take over the cooking they are stuck with whatever I choose to prepare. Which, if I am short on time or energy, is likely to be some variation of this vegetable couscous salad recipe.
This couscous salad is brilliant as a side dish, and I also love it as an easy lunchbox lunch for The Princess although I do tart it up a little for her (she can complain as much as she wants – she’s still got too eat).
And talking of lunchboxes, make sure you grab my free guide from the Resource Library with all my tips for making salads ahead. You can get the guide by clicking the link below or by requesting the password at the end of this post.
Couscous is super easy to prepare, with most brands requiring only a douse of hot water to reconstitute them, so I find it a great store cupboard staple to have on hand for a quick dinner accompaniment.
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Ingredient Substitutions for Vegetable Couscous Salad Recipe
This couscous salad recipe is ripe for substitutions. I like to change up the vegetables according to whatever I have on hand, so treat this recipe as a basic template and make it your own:
- Roasted vegetables would be delicious in this salad. Roasted zucchini, capsicum (peppers), eggplant, and asparagus would all work well.
- Replace the wholegrain (wholewheat) couscous with any other couscous variety. You could even use pearl couscous in this salad if desired.
- Flavoured couscous would also work really well in this salad. Just make sure you select a flavour that will work with the lemon dressing.
- Other fresh herbs can be used in place of the parsley. Try chopped coriander (cilantro), basil, chives, chervil, dill or anything you fancy.
- Add shredded poached chicken to bulk up the salad and turn it into a main meal salad.
- Crumbled feta or goats cheese can be tossed through the couscous with the vegetables if desired.
Frequently Asked Questions About Couscous salad
My couscous salad recipe will last for up to three days in the fridge, making it ideal for the lunchbox.
Freshly cooked couscous can be cooled and reheated later. A quick reheat in the microwave will do the trick. Once the couscous has been mixed with the rest of the salad ingredients, it cannot be reheated.
Couscous can be served both hot and cold. I serve it hot as a side dish with tagines and stews, and serve it cold for couscous salad.
Couscous is ready to cook, and does not need to be rinsed.
Couscous is not a grain. It is made from a mix of semolina flour and water, so is like a type of pasta. Some couscous varieties can be made with wholegrain flours – I have tried wheat, spelt and barley wholegrain couscous – and therefore have a higher nutritional profile than traditional couscous.
I use a ratio of 1 cup of water to 1 cup of couscous to rehydrate couscous. I have never had a problem with this formula, however I would recommend you check the packet instructions just in case they are wildly different.
Tips for the best couscous salad recipe
I leave you with a few final thoughts on things you can do to make this the best vegetable couscous salad recipe you have ever tried:
- I prefer to use wholegrain (wholewheat) couscous as I feel it fluffs up better and has a little more flavour than traditional couscous. See my thoughts above on this.
- Leftovers make a great lunch, and I invariably make an extra large couscous salad for just this reason.
- I store uncooked wholegrain couscous in the freezer to extend the keeping time.
- To add flavour to the couscous, rehydrate it with hot chicken or vegetable stock.
- The salad will keep in the fridge for up to three days.
Made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below.
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An Easy Vegetable Couscous Salad
For the dressing
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper
For the couscous
- 175 g (1 cup) wholegrain couscous uncooked
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the salad
- 135 g (1 cup) green peas frozen
- 1 spring onion (scallions) finely sliced
- 1 large celery stalk finely sliced
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
For the dressing
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil to a small jar with a lid.
- Season well with salt & pepper, and replace the lid.
- Shake the jar vigorously to combine the dressing.
- Taste the dressing. It should taste strongly of lemons. If it doesn’t, add a little more lemon juice and shake the jar again. The lemon juice should be quite prominent in the dressing.
- Once you are happy with the taste of the dressing, set the jar aside.
For the couscous*
- In a small saucepan with a lid, bring 1 cup of water to the boil.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the couscous to the hot water.
- Stir briefly to ensure all of the couscous is saturated and replace the lid.
- Set the saucepan aside for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
- After 10 minutes, remove the lid and drizzle the olive oil over the couscous.
- Fluff the couscous with a fork (not a spoon).
For the salad
- Whilst the couscous is cooking, place the green peas into a small bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Allow the peas to sit for 5 minutes, and then drain.
- Once the couscous is cooked, tip it into a large bowl.
- Add the drained peas, celery, spring onion (scallion) and parsley to the couscous.
- Gently but thoroughly stir the vegetables through the couscous.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, and stir again to coat the salad with the dressing.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge until required.
- *Check the packet instructions for the couscous. If it is vastly different from the instructions I have given, I recommend you follow the instructions for the variety you have purchased.
- Change up the vegetables in this couscous salad according to what you have in the fridge.
- Char-grilled vegetables work very well in this salad.
- Goats cheese, feta or even shredded poached chicken can all be added for a more substantial salad.
- This couscous salad will keep in the fridge for up the three days.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on 9th March 2015. It was substantially updated on 27th February 2019 to include ingredient substitutions, FAQ’s, nutritional information and to improve the readability of the text.