Thursday, September 8, 2022

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

This fresh Mediterranean Couscous Salad is flavor packed with fresh cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumbers, herbs, and feta cheese. A salad you'll want to make all year-round!

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Tomatoes are at their peak and it's time to take advantage of that by using them in this quick and easy throw together salad.  It's main base is Israeli couscous which is pre-toasted tiny balls of pasta.  This type is larger than the Moroccan type you typically associate couscous with.  It's perfect for salads and lends substance to the dish.  (See below for product sources)  The dish takes advantage of juicy ripe cherry tomatoes that are sweet and bursting with flavor this time of year.  Below I show you my favorite type of cherry tomato.

The salad is very easy to pull together.  Just cook up the couscous, chop your vegetables and herbs, then toss with chickpeas and feta cheese.  A lemon vinaigrette is made to top off the salad.  This one is a winner and I've been making a variation of this all summer long.  In fact, you could make this all year long, but do take advantage of the premium tomatoes that are available now.


What Ingredients do I need?

  • Cherry tomatoes - buy the plumpest, most red tomatoes you can find.  If you can find them on the vine, these tend to have the most flavor.

  • Israeli couscous - larger than regular pasta, this is my favorite brand.
  • Chickpeas - aka garbanzo beans
  • Lemon - for juicing
  • Olive oil - get extra virgin
  • Garlic - use fresh, pre-minced, or even frozen will do.
  • Fresh dill - In summer get the fresh herbs while you can. 
  • Persian cucumbers - little green gems that don't need peeling! Bright cool taste.
  • Feta Cheese - I prefer buying a block of feta and crumbling it myself.  Feta made from sheep's milk is a wonderful treat as well.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Grains such as quinoa, farro, bulgur, or wheat berries may be substituted for the couscous.
  • Any mini pasta such as farfalle, penne, or rotini may be used.  They now come in mini sizes.
  • Use ripe chopped tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes if they look better than cherry tomatoes.
  • Use English cucumbers instead of Persian.
  • Leave off the cheese if needed.
  • White cannellini beans would work well.
  • Don't care for dill? Try parsley, thyme, or basil.

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Cook the couscous first since it has to cool before assembly.
  • Dried herbs:  I haven't tried it with dried dill, but off season this might be an option.  I would put the dried herbs in with the vinaigrette and then mix it in to the salad.
  • For Vegan's use a vegan cheese or leave it off.
  • This salad keeps well in the refrigerator for several days in an airtight container.

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Mediterranean Couscous Salad

serves 4-6

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
3-4 cups of cherry tomatoes, (about 1 1/2 pints), halved 
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 Persian cucumbers (depending on size), sliced
1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.  Drain is need be and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl or jar add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Whisk or shake until emulsified.  

In a large bowl add the cooled couscous, tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumbers, and dill.  Stir to combine.  Drizzle with dressing and toss until well distributed.  Top with crumbled feta cheese and season with salt & pepper to taste if necessary.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top and serve.

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