Vibrant, bright and light fresh flavors! A melody of textures! Do you sometimes crave for some good starchy carbs in your salad? Something that feels like a hearty fulfilling meal any time of the day, and yet something that you don’t mind going back for a few times a day? This Israeli Couscous Salad has it all!
Colorful veggies and Levantine flavors like Kalamata olives, feta, and pine nuts along with nutty chewy pearled couscous and tossed with a fresh lemon Dijon vinaigrette. It’s a salad chameleon at its best!! It could be your lunch or weeknight dinner. Or it could be your “oh look at that salad” at all the potlucks or get togethers this coming summer. Hopefully they are coming our ways soon. Yes… they are!
Israel is what I first thought with Easter coming up. A quick look at GypsyPlate and I still don’t have anything from Israel. Hmm, time to rectify that. So, here is a simple, yet gorgeous, salad made with their pearled couscous. It’s crazy simple and full of crazy addictive flavors. Make a huge batch, and munch it on anytime at your heart’s desire.
What is Israeli Couscous? A quick intro…
Most Israelis probably know them as “ptitim”, as that’s what they are called in Israel. They were developed in the early 1950’s when rice was scarce there. Though outsiders might confuse them as grains, they are basically toasted pasta made from semolina and/or wheat flour. They are shaped like tiny balls or beads or orbs and are a little larger than traditional couscous. Hence, they are called pearled couscous, giant couscous, Israeli couscous, or Jerusalem couscous.
This variety is nuttier and chewier. Because of its texture and mild flavors, it’s very flexible and can adapt to a vast number of recipe variations by adding a host of different ingredients like fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. And that’s why they are gaining popularity in today’s lifestyle and cuisine.
Well, let’s start our love of this new orb shaped pasta by making this simple and colorful Israeli couscous salad. When it comes to veggies, this salad is very accommodating. Any kind of crunchy veggies are great. I am partial to peppers, so add whatever color is in the fridge that day. Some crisp cucumbers, some cherry tomatoes. Other options are zucchini, yellow squash or blanched green beans. We’ll keep this one simple…
Today I am going with following ingredients :
- Couscous – Israeli, of course. You can use mono color like we used, or they also come in tricolor (which are colored with tomatoes and spinach).
- Heirloom cherry tomatoes – You, gorgeous!!
- Cucumber – English variety is preferred, but you can use any.
- Bell peppers – I am using red, orange and yellow today.
- Kalamata olives – Oh, those Levantine flavors start coming now.
- Feta – And some more…
- Pine nuts – Those buttery toasted for extra nuttiness… divine!
- Parsley – This one is good there, some mint can certainly go too.
Now the Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette, this is important too!
- Extra virgin olive oil – The base.
- Lemon juice – The name, you see.
- Lemon rind – To accentuate the zinginess.
- Dijon mustard – Yup, again the name.
- Garlic – Goes well here, finely crushed or grated.
- Honey – Just the right amount.
- Salt – To taste.
- Black pepper – Freshly cracked.
- Parsley – Finely chopped for an herby touch.
How to make this Israeli Couscous Salad?
Very fast and quick!
First, get the dressing going. Chop your parsley and dice or mince your garlic. Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a bowl or jar. You can refrigerate it till everything else is ready.
The next step is making that pearled Israeli couscous. Though it’s optional, we find toasting it before adding water adds an extra layer of nutty flavor to the couscous. Simply heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium high heat then pour in your couscous. Stir regularly to ensure it evenly toasts and none burns. Once it is a little browned, about 5 minutes, add boiling water. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After cooking, leave the pot covered 5 minutes.
While that’s simmering, chop all your veggies, olives and parsley. I like to halve my tomatoes and olives and cut the peppers into 1/2 inch square pieces, but go with your preferred size. Your cutting board will start looking like rainbow platter… love it!
Toast the pine nuts slightly in an ungreased pan over medium low heat. Take caution as they can burn very fast. Nope, can’t afford that, as they are mighty expensive. Stir continuously with a spoon and don’t turn your back on them. This only takes a minute or two.
Once the couscous is ready, let it cool and come to room temperature. Then all that’s needed is to put everything in your salad bowl, your veggies, couscous, Kalamata, pine nuts, parsley and feta.
Pour in your dazzling lemon Dijon vinaigrette and give it a toss.
Now you are ready to either chow down right away or refrigerate your salad for an hour or two so the dressing seeps in and the flavors get highlighted. But then, if you are like me, that refrigerator door gets opened so many times to get my munch going!!
What do you serve this salad with??
This goes great with Mediterranean style meats and kebabs, or any kind of grilled, pan fried or baked protein, be it chicken or fish or steak!! The beauty of this salad is it’s a mix of veggies and carbs, so you don’t have to cook those separately. Another beauty is, this salad can be turned into full light lunch or dinner option.
I have even tried scrambled eggs the next day with this salad, and everybody at the Beisers’ loved it. Why not? It has feta, Kalamata and all those other goodies!
This is a good looker and has a little novelty factor to it, so it’s going to attract a lot of people at those pot lucks and pool parties… Make a huge batch!
How long does this salad last?
Not very long at Beisers’, the way we munch on it! 🙂 But making a giant batch is possible as everything that goes in it is quite hearty. All the ingredients hold very well for few days, so you can refrigerate it covered with cling wrap, or in airtight container, for 3-4 days. The lemon Dijon vinaigrette can last up to one week in an airtight jar.
Did I entice you enough to invite this pearled Israeli couscous into your life? Once it’s in, believe me, you are going to grab it every time you see it in the store. Let’s make this pearled couscous popular, as it’s just as yum as your regular couscous… hmm, maybe more… 🙂 Yes, I am a tad bit partial to my pearled, or as they say in Israel, ptitim… Ptitim, it is!!
Israeli Couscous Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Check out these other great GypsyPlate salads!
Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto
Rainbow Pasta Salad
Zucchini Carrot Salad
Spanish Summer Salad (Pipirrana)
Greek Steak Salad Bowl
Thanksgiving Kale Salad
- 1.5 cups Israeli couscous
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 oz cherry tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 3 bell peppers (I used one each of red, yellow and orange)
- 20 Kalamata olives
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Chop parsley and chop or mince garlic.
- Add all dressing ingredients to a bowl or jar and whisk together. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Place in refrigerator.
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add couscous and stir continuously until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1¾ cups boiling water. Cover, reduce to low heat, and cook 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and leave covered 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Chop peppers, cucumber, olives and parsley.
- Over medium low heat, toast pine nuts in an ungreased pan. Stir continuously, they can burn very quickly. Once there is a little brown color on most sides, remove from heat. About 1-2 minutes.
- Add couscous and all salad ingredients into a large bowl. Pour dressing on top and toss well.
- Ideally, this salad should be cooled in the refrigerator for at least one hour prior to serving.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 304Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 11mgSodium 285mgCarbohydrates 22gFiber 3gSugar 6gProtein 6g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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