20 Minute, Lemon and Herb Couscous Salad Recipe

How to make light and healthy couscous salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette, cucumber and herbs. Jump to the Easy Couscous Salad Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.

20 Minute, Lemon and Herb Couscous Salad Recipe

It really doesn’t get much fresher than this. We love this light salad — it doubles as a side, can be the main event or works well topped with grilled chicken or Adam’s favorite, shrimp! With lots of texture from crisp cucumber, sweet tomatoes, crunchy nuts, and raisins, this is certainly one of our favorites. You can even make it ahead of time.

Tangy Cucumber Salad RecipeYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: This Tangy Cucumber Salad made with a vinegar based dressing, seedless cucumbers, and red onion.

How to Make Lemon and Herb Couscous Salad

Serve this salad warm or cold. You even swap or add your favorite fresh ingredients. We love crisp cucumbers, tomatoes, and golden raisins.

The base of the salad is made with Israeli couscous.

What is Israeli Couscous? Israeli Couscous is a little different from what most of us think of when we hear couscous. It’s in the shape of small round pearls made from semolina flour and wheat and is very similar to pasta in its texture. In fact, you actually cook it in boiling water for about 10 minutes then drain. Easily use in place of rice, or even in place of pastas in soups or salads.

If you cannot find Israeli Couscous, you can substitute with a small pasta shape such as orzo or use regular couscous.

The Secret for the Most Flavorful Salad

To make the best, most flavorful salad, add the vinaigrette to the couscous while it is still warm. We do the same with pasta salad and even potato salad.

Add the dressing while the couscous is still warm.

Since the couscous is warm, it soaks up all the flavor from the dressing. Speaking of the dressing, this is one of my go-to recipes. We love keeping this salad light and fresh, so our favorite dressing to toss the couscous in is a light lemony vinaigrette. It’s simple — and great to toss with warm veggies like carrots or as a light salad dressing. All you need is Dijon mustard, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Just whisk together until creamy, and then season with salt and pepper and you’re done.

Once the couscous is dressed, it’s up to you for what else you add – we love diced tomato, crisp cucumber, lots of fresh herbs, golden raisins, and crunchy walnuts.

Tomatoes, cucumber, raisins, herbs, and walnuts

Make Ahead Tips

This is delicious when eaten straight away, but you can also make the salad, cover it and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. This way all the flavors marry and mingle, making for an even more delicious salad. If you are planning to make a day or two ahead of time, keep the tomatoes and walnuts separate until you’re ready to serve. This way they will remain crisp.

Easy Caesar Salad RecipeYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: This Easy Caesar Salad Recipe with Croutons. We show you how to make egg-free Caesar dressing and your own croutons.

Recipe updated, originally posted March 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

20 Minute, Lemon and Herb Couscous Salad Recipe

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

We love this light couscous salad — it doubles as a side, can be the main event or works well topped with grilled chicken or Adam’s favorite, shrimp! With lots of texture from crisp cucumber, sweet tomatoes, crunchy nuts and raisins, this is certainly one of our favorites. You can even make it ahead of time. See the notes section below for our tips.

Makes approximately 4 servings

You Will Need

1 1/2 cups dried Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous

Salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 of a medium English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)

1 large tomato, diced

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs; use any combination of fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, or mint

1/3 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

    Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain.

    While the couscous cooks, in a large bowl, mix the oil, mustard, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the drained couscous to the dressing and mix well.

    Stir in the cucumber, tomato, herbs, raisins and walnuts. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and/or pepper as needed. Enjoy warm or cover then refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • If you cannot find Israeli Couscous, you may substitute with a small pasta shape such as orzo or use regular couscous.
  • To toast walnuts, add to a dry pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the nuts turn golden brown and become fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Make-Ahead: This salad is delicious when eaten straight away, but you can also make the salad, cover it and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. This way all the flavors marry and mingle, making for an even more delicious salad. If you are planning to make a day or two ahead of time, keep the tomatoes and walnuts separate until you’re ready to serve. This way they will remain crisp.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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15 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Ilana May 3, 2015, 11:53 pm

    Not sure if this is too late — I just made this recipe, and it was divine! I added some chickpeas and diced red pepper, for good measure. That vinaigrette is really wonderful. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  • Amy October 20, 2014, 10:34 am

    I ended up making this for 16 people as a side dish, and it was a huge hit yesterday. I made it the day before, since I was cooking up alot of other dishes and it was fabulous. I just squeezed a little fresh lemon over it the next day to give it some freshness. It was delicious!

    Reply
    • Joanne October 23, 2014, 11:08 am

      Nice. Great idea to liven it up the next day with extra lemon juice!

      Reply
  • Amy October 17, 2014, 12:24 pm

    If you are making this for 16 people – can you just multiply the ingredients by 4? Usually you can do that but with the couscous I’m thinking the proportion of water might not work?

    Reply
    • Joanne October 23, 2014, 11:26 am

      Yep, you just want a larger pot to cook the couscous — or do it in batches.

      Reply
  • Kate Higgins June 16, 2014, 5:53 pm

    was wondering if you could substitute quinoa for the couscous… looks very delicious!

    Reply
    • Joanne June 20, 2014, 12:12 pm

      Sure! That’s a great idea.

      Reply
  • Mary Jane February 15, 2014, 6:13 pm

    Lovely, fresh salad. Will make often. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • sherri mclean January 3, 2014, 7:00 pm

    Delish! I was snowed in and didn’t want to go to the store so I used what I had..cilantro…sautéed celery, onions, broccoli (no cucumbers here) and added minced garlic.. Didn’t use nuts or raisins because my husband is on WW… So good! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Honour Taoreed December 19, 2013, 2:23 am

    WOW! This is what i have been looking for a long time.Easy to cook and tastes great.

    Reply
  • Katherine May 27, 2013, 1:26 pm

    I want this in my fridge ALL the time!! Rarely review recipes I print…just make them and never give credit where it is due…shame,shame…but this salad is so scrumptious it would be a sin not to tell the world about it. I was looking for something special (and pretty) to make as a side for my mom’s Mother’s Day dinner. We had bbq chicken, 2 different couscous salads, delicious blanched green beans- everyone kept coming back for more of the Lemon & Herb Couscous salad! Could not get enough. We served it chilled and it was absolutely just as refreshing as the picture. I always go to Publix and pick up the “Near East” pearl couscous for this recipe and then follow the Gallaghers’ method verbatim. Cannot wait for heirloom tomatoes to come in and complete this ensemble. Bought fresh cucumbers and corn from the market (peaches n’ cream) and used cilantro and dill for the herbs. Left off the raisins and walnuts. I like to serve this cold- so the pearl couscous is much better for that- in general, when I think of couscous, I think of pearl couscous- the regular kind just seems like quinoa to me. OUTSTANDING. For the past two summers, I have made a black bean, red pepper, avocado, white corn salad with a vinaigrette that is delicious but needed a change and was searching through all these fresh summer recipes that just weren’t doing it for me until I found this one! Bravo Gallaghers. We have made it every week since! It’s our staple this summer (and certainly for many to come!) Thank you!!

    Reply
  • Denise Browning December 26, 2012, 7:57 pm

    Hi, Joanne! Just to let you know that this dish made the list of the 25 mouthwatering dishes from different blogs in From Brazil To You…Cheers!

    Reply
    • Joanne December 27, 2012, 1:00 pm

      Thanks!

      Reply
  • Aggie March 29, 2012, 12:08 pm

    This looks so refreshing!! I have everything but the raisins. I want to make this!

    Reply

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