Our Favorite Lemon Herb Couscous Salad
How to make light and healthy couscous salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette, cucumber and herbs. Jump to the Easy Lemon and Herb Couscous Salad Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
Watch Us Make The 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. By the way, we love this salad so much we created spin-off using orzo pasta. If you love this salad, take a look at our Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Olives.
How to Couscous Salad with Lemon, Herbs and Crisp Veggies
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 (or pearl) 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
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. [Here’s another couscous salad: Lemony Arugula Salad with Couscous, Cucumbers and Feta! The salad is simple, fast and tastes like it came from a fancy restaurant.]
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.
More Easy Salads
- Fresh and Easy Cucumber Salad with a sweet and tangy dressing made with vinegar, a little sugar, and Dijon mustard.
- Creamy Cucumber Salad has a tzatziki-inspired dressing made with Greek yogurt, vinegar, fresh lemon, garlic, and dill.
- Lemony White Bean Salad with Prosciutto has creamy white beans, salty prosciutto, parmesan cheese, peppery arugula, and a punchy lemon dressing.
- Seriously Good Quinoa Salad is ultra-flavorful and satisfying quinoa salad recipe is packed with superfoods.
Recipe updated, originally posted March 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
Our Favorite Lemon Herb Couscous Salad
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.
You Will Need
1 1/2 cups dried Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, depending on taste
1 medium English cucumber, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs; use any combination of fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, or mint
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup raisins, we love golden raisins
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, whisk 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, walnuts and raisins. 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.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values. We assumed 1/4 teaspoon of added salt.