Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a light, fresh, and vibrant pasta salad, and the perfect side dish for any summer meal.

The post Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Not a summer goes by without me making this incredible Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad. It’s so fresh and delicious, quick to make, AND it stays good in the fridge for days. What more could you want from a summer salad?? Plus, it’s a great dish to bring to all those summer potlucks and BBQs, too!

Originally posted 6-19-2013, updated 6-18-2022.

Overhead view of a bowl of lemony cucumber couscous salad with lemons on the side.

What is Couscous?

Couscous is a small, ball-shaped pasta. It cooks really fast, is a fun texture, and is a great way to bulk up salads. The variety used for this Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a larger-sized couscous called pearl couscous, or sometimes Israeli couscous or giant couscous. If you can’t find pearl couscous, you can use regular couscous or even orzo in its place (orzo would be my first choice since it’s similar in size). Regular couscous cooks a little differently, so take a look at this couscous salad (made with regular-sized couscous) for cooking instructions and size reference.

Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice?

Fresh lemon is key to achieving the powerfully fresh lemon flavor in this Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad, so I do not suggest substituting the fresh lemon with bottled lemon juice. The lemon zest alone is responsible for most of the lemon flavor in this salad, and, unfortunately, you just can’t get that from bottled juice.

What to Serve with Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

This super fresh summer salad is a great side dish for anything you might cook on the grill, or you could serve it with something like Garlic Marinated Chicken, a giant Veggie Sandwich, or Mediterranean Turkey Burgers.

How Are the Leftovers?

I love this salad so much simply because it stays good in the fridge for days. The couscous sort of acts like a moisture regulator, keeping the cucumbers from getting soft or soggy and keeping the salad almost as perfect as it was on day one. So if you’re looking for something to meal prep for lunch this summer, this couscous salad is it!

Close up side view of lemony cucumber couscous salad in a bowl.

Overhead view of lemony cucumber couscous salad in a bowl garnished with lemons.

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a light, fresh, and vibrant pasta salad perfect for any summer meal. 
Course Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Middle-Eastern
Total Cost $6.46 recipe / $1.08 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 1 cup each
Calories 250kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups pearl couscous $2.20
  • 1 fresh lemon $0.89
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1 English cucumber $1.49
  • 1/4 bunch parsley $0.27
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled $1.23

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the couscous and continue to boil for about minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain the couscous in a colander or wire strainer. Rinse briefly with cool water to cool off the couscous, then allow to drain while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Zest the lemon and then squeeze the juice. You'll need about ½ tsp of zest and 3 Tbsp of juice.
  • Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a bowl and stir to combine.
  • Chop the cucumber into quarter-rounds and roughly chop the parsley.
  • Add the cooled and drained couscous to a large bowl along with the cucumber, parsley, lemon zest, and feta. Pour the dressing over top, then stir to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Video

Notes

If you are substituting regular couscous for Israeli couscous, be aware that the cooking instructions are different. You can find instructions and step by step photos in this recipe post. You can substitute orzo for the couscous without any adjustments.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 265mg | Fiber: 3g

Side view of a bowl of lemony cucumber couscous salad.

How to Make Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad – Step by Step Photos

A package of pearl couscous.

This is what pearl or Israeli couscous looks like. It cooks exactly like pasta. For reference, check out this couscous salad to see the size of regular couscous. You’ll need about 1.5 cups of pearl couscous for this recipe.

Cooked couscous draining in a colander.

To cook the couscous, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add the couscous, and then continue to boil until the couscous is tender. Since the couscous is small, it cooks very quickly (about 5 minutes). Drain the couscous and then rinse briefly with cool water to bring the temperature down. 

Zested and juiced lemon.

While the couscous is cooking and cooling, prepare the rest of the salad. Start by zesting and juicing one lemon. You’ll need about 1 tsp zest and 3 Tbsp juice.

Lemony dressing in a bowl with a whisk.

To make the lemony dressing, whisk together 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. If you’re a garlic lover, you can mince up a clove of fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. I decided that I wanted the salad to have just a hint of garlic flavor, so I added a touch of powdered garlic instead of fresh.

Chopped parsley and cucumber on a cutting board.

Roughly chop ¼ bunch parsley (about ½ cup chopped) and slice one cucumber into quarter-rounds.

Salad ingredients in the bowl, not mixed.

Transfer the cooked and cooled couscous to a large bowl, then add the chopped parsley and cucumber, and about 3 oz. crumbled feta.

Dressing being poured over the salad.

Pour the prepared dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl.

Finished lemony cucumber couscous salad in the bowl with a large spoon.

Stir the salad until everything is evenly mixed and coated in dressing. You can give it a taste here and adjust the salt, pepper, or any other ingredients to your liking.

Overhead view of lemony cucumber couscous salad in a bowl garnished with lemons.

And now you’re ready to eat! Or, you can chill it until it’s time for dinner. The flavors get even better as it chills and once it’s cold the salad is extra refreshing!

Close up side view of a bowl of lemony cucumber couscous salad.

Seriously, this Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is my favorite summer treat. Sometimes I add a grilled chicken breast on top and make it a meal. A dollop of hummus is also good in there!

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a light, fresh, and vibrant pasta salad perfect for any summer meal. BudgetBytes.com

The post Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Couscous Salad

This colorful couscous salad recipe tastes irresistibly fresh with herbs, garlic, and lemon! It’s ideal as a side dish, lunches,…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This colorful couscous salad recipe tastes irresistibly fresh with herbs, garlic, and lemon! It’s ideal as a side dish, lunches, picnics or potlucks.

Couscous Salad

Here’s a salad that’s about as delightful as they come: this fresh and herby Couscous Salad! It’s an ideal way to use Israeli couscous, those delightfully chewy pasta spheres. Throw it together with fresh dill and mint, garlic, lemon and a pile of vegetables, then sprinkle with salty feta. Take a bite and it’s irresistibly fresh and savory: we couldn’t stop eating it! This deli-style Israeli couscous salad works for lunch or picnics, or as a colorful side for fish, chicken or the grill. Really, what can’t this salad do? With one bite you’ll be smitten.

Ingredients in this couscous salad recipe

A couscous salad could work with Moroccan couscous, which has very small irregular pieces. But this one uses the larger perfectly round Israeli couscous, which technically isn’t couscous at all! We like an Israeli couscous salad because the larger size has a more distinguishable texture when mixed in with the veggies. Here’s what you’ll need for this salad:

  • Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous)
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic clove
  • Shallot
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh dill and fresh mint
  • Baby arugula
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Simply cook up the Israeli couscous, slice the veggies, and mix everything together! It’s quick and simple, and the flavor is unbelievably refreshing with a pop of acidity.

Israeli Couscous
Israeli couscous is larger in size than standard couscous and spherical

Couscous vs Israeli couscous

A little background on couscous! What’s the difference between standard couscous and Israeli couscous? Make sure to grab Israeli couscous when shopping for this recipe. Here’s what to know:

  • Couscous is a North African pasta with tiny grains made from semolina flour. Its texture looks like grains of rice or quinoa, but’s actually a pasta! It originated with the Berbers of Algeria and Morocco between the 11th century and 13th century. It’s a cultural dish of the Maghrebi cuisines in the countries of Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, and Libya. Couscous has very small, irregular grains. It’s the standard variety and labeled “couscous” at the grocery (it typically won’t include the word Moroccan).
  • Israeli couscous aka pearl couscous is larger and shaped like balls. It’s technically considered a pasta and not couscous, since the grains are large and shaped exactly the same. It’s always been machine made, whereas couscous is made by hand. The food was invented in Israel in the 1950’s when the government needed to feed masses of immigrants.

Keep in mind: couscous is not gluten free and it’s not suitable for gluten-free diets. You can find gluten-free couscous online.

Couscous Salad

Look for baby arugula

One important note for this couscous salad: make sure to look for baby arugula! If you can’t find it, don’t substitute it with standard arugula. Here’s why:

  • Baby arugula has a feathery texture and is sold in bags or boxes. It has a delicately peppery flavor.
  • Standard arugula, sold in bunches, has a very spicy flavor that would overpower this salad!
  • Can’t find baby arugula? Substitute another baby green like baby spinach or baby kale.

Using fresh herbs in this couscous salad

This Israeli couscous salad goes big on herby flavor with fresh dill and fresh mint: they’re integral to the light, herbaceous flavor. But they can be expensive in winter months! Here are a few notes on working with fresh herbs:

  • If you can, use both fresh dill and mint. Growing your own herbs in the summer is the best way to keep this economical.
  • Want to use only one fresh herb? Go for the fresh dill and omit the mint.
  • Avoid substituting dried herbs: they have a much different flavor. If desired you can simply omit the herbs entirely: it still tastes good! (Just not quite as good.)
Couscous Salad

Ways to serve this couscous salad

This couscous salad is one of those ultra-versatile recipes that you can use for many different occasions and seasons. Here are some of our favorite ways to serve it:

Let us know how you plan to serve it in the comments below!

More salad recipes

Love a good grain or bean salad? They make a lovely easy side dish idea. Here are a few more fun recipes you’ll love:

This couscous salad recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, look for gluten-free couscous online. For vegan and dairy-free, omit the feta and add a few pinches more salt.

Print
Couscous Salad

Couscous Salad


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 side dish servings

Description

This colorful couscous salad recipe tastes irresistibly fresh with herbs, garlic, and lemon! It’s ideal as a side dish, lunches, picnics or potlucks.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous; look for gluten-free if desired)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint**
  • 2 cups baby arugula (or other baby greens)*
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles (omit for vegan and add more salt to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the Israeli couscous, garlic powder and ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and reduce to a simmer. Cover with lid and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until the couscous is tender and the water is absorbed.  Remove the couscous to a bowl, mix it with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and shallot. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the dill and mint.
  3. When the couscous is done resting, place it in a large bowl with the chopped vegetables and herbs. Add the baby arugula, feta cheese crumbles, lemon juice and zest, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix gently to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days (flavor is best right away but tastes great after refrigeration; you may need to revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt).

Notes

*Make sure to look for baby arugula, which has a feathery texture and is sold in bags or boxes. Standard arugula, sold in bunches, has much too spicy of a flavor. If you can’t find it, substitute another baby green like baby spinach or baby kale.

**If it’s winter and you’d like to pare back and use only one herb, go for the fresh dill. We highly recommend this salad with both fresh herbs (and try growing your own herbs in the summer). Avoid substituting dried herbs: you can simply omit the herbs entirely and it still tastes good.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Couscous salad

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

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Maple BBQ Salmon with Brown Butter Couscous.

All good days end with maple BBQ salmon. So guess what! It’s a Monday meal on a Monday! This is SUCH a Monday recipe in my eyes. Tastes delish, is easy to throw together, is satisfying and simple. But packed with a flavor punch. You know what a huge fan of salmon I am. I […]

The post Maple BBQ Salmon with Brown Butter Couscous. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

All good days end with maple BBQ salmon.

This maple bbq salmon is a quick and delicious weeknight meal. Serve with brown butter couscous and your favorite veg to round it out!

So guess what! It’s a Monday meal on a Monday!

This is SUCH a Monday recipe in my eyes. Tastes delish, is easy to throw together, is satisfying and simple. But packed with a flavor punch.

seasoned salmon filets

You know what a huge fan of salmon I am. I almost said “we” and used the term “in this house,” but then I remembered that Eddie doesn’t love salmon. He will eat it, but it’s not his go-to seafood or fish. He much prefers a white fish or something like shrimp or scallops. 

That being said, if I really want it or if I’ve tested some new recipes, he will eat it. So I want to make it as good as possible. Because I’m still hoping to convert him, you know?

This maple bbq salmon is a quick and delicious weeknight meal. Serve with brown butter couscous and your favorite veg to round it out!

This flavor combination is ridiculously simple but GOOD. I’ve told you about this quick bbq-like spice rub for almost ten years. It’s an awesome way to get some bbq flavor and spice (think slightly sweet and smoky) without a sauce or a specific mixed spice rub. Those things are great, don’t get me wrong, but since you may not always have them on hand, this is the next best thing. I promise!

A little spice rub and a tiny maple drizzle will go a long way, I tell you. 

brown butter + couscous

I like to make this with a super simple yet flavorful side, since the salmon has so much taste. Pearl couscous is one of my favorites and has been since I first had it – which was maybe when I was 20? 21? 

I’ve loved it ever since. Sometimes I use it as the base of my grain bowls or salads. Other times, I make a simple side like this, drizzle it with brown butter and go to town.

This maple bbq salmon is a quick and delicious weeknight meal. Serve with brown butter couscous and your favorite veg to round it out!

For a veggie, my go-to is always my parmesan roasted broccoli. I love that when combined with my favorite veg, this is a MEAL. It sounds funny, but having three components to a meal (the entree, two sides) is such a nostalgic, feel-good thing in our house. It’s how I grew up eating dinner almost every night. Sometimes when I think back to how my mom got a meal like that together almost every.single.night?! It’s crazy. And inspiring. And I love it!

So here we are. Eat up.

This maple bbq salmon is a quick and delicious weeknight meal. Serve with brown butter couscous and your favorite veg to round it out!

Maple BBQ Salmon with Brown Butter Couscous

Maple BBQ Sauce

This maple bbq salmon is a quick and delicious weeknight meal. Serve with brown butter couscous and your favorite veg to round it out!

  • 2 pounds salmon filets
  • 1 tablespoon brown (or maple!) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup

brown butter couscous

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl couscous
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, (minced)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the salmon on a baking sheet.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and cumin. Sprinkle it all over the salmon filets. Drizzle each filet with the maple syrup and use a spoon to kind of “spread” it all over the filet.
  3. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the salmon just flakes with a fork. If desired, you can brush with a little more maple syrup when it comes out of the oven. Top with chopped chives. Serve immediately with brown butter couscous!

  4. brown butter couscous
  5. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Stir in the couscous until coated, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until the couscous is slightly toasty. Add in the stock and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. While the couscous is cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Cook, whisking often, until brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the garlic cloves.
  7. Once the couscous is finished, drizzle with the garlic brown butter. Toss and serve.

N

This maple bbq salmon is a quick and delicious weeknight meal. Serve with brown butter couscous and your favorite veg to round it out!

Cozy comfort right there.

The post Maple BBQ Salmon with Brown Butter Couscous. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Raw Squash and Feta

Meet my favorite couscous salad, featuring pearled couscous and colorful summertime produce. This Mediterranean-style salad is light, refreshing, and overflowing with colorful rounds of thinly sliced raw…

The post Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Raw Squash and Feta appeared first on Cookie and Kate.

Mediterranean couscous salad recipe

Meet my favorite couscous salad, featuring pearled couscous and colorful summertime produce. This Mediterranean-style salad is light, refreshing, and overflowing with colorful rounds of thinly sliced raw zucchini and yellow squash. That’s right, raw squash! It’s so good.

This salad is a simple, light summer dish full of vegetables, whole grains, chickpeas and feta. I came up with this recipe six years ago for Free People’s blog, and it’s become one of my mom’s go-to potluck dishes. So, I thought I’d update it to meet my 2019 standards.

couscous salad ingredients

This salad is just the kind of meal I’m craving during this hot summer weather, and it would be perfect for your Fourth of July parties. If you’re looking for more Independence Day recipes, I’ve got you covered. I’ve listed a few of my other favorite salads below, too!

Continue to the recipe...

The post Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Raw Squash and Feta appeared first on Cookie and Kate.