This Israeli Couscous Salad recipe is full of healthy grilled vegetables and fresh herbs tossed in a flavorful homemade lemon vinaigrette. Incredibly versatile, this Israeli Pearl Couscous salad is not only the perfect meal for hot summer dinners and lunches, but also a wonderful dish to bring to picnics and potlucks.
We love making quick and easy salads that are nutritious and packed with veggies like this Southwest Couscous Salad!
Israeli Couscous Salad
I absolutely love Israeli couscous. The soft chewy texture and slippery smooth surface of this pearled pasta is quite unique and offers the perfect canvas for all kinds of additions. From veggies – to cheese – to meats.
This tasty pearl couscous salad recipe is super versatile. It can be served as a side dish or as a main dish and is delicious warm, at room temperature or cold. I don’t know about you, but I’d never say no to a bowl of tiny round pearl pasta loaded with balsamic marinated grilled vegetables, fresh herbs and the most fabulous citrus vinaigrette. No matter what time of the day it is, a simple and nutritious pasta salad is always welcome in my world.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
- Versatility: Choose seasonal produce or what you already have at home. This is a great dish for “clean the fridge” day.
- Nutritious and Healthy: This hearty vegetarian side dish or main course is packed with vegetables and fresh herbs!
- Make ahead: This is a great recipe to make ahead of time as the flavors meld together beautifully making the salad even more delicious. Excellent for entertaining, meal planning and a wonderful vegetarian side dish to bring to holiday parties.
Israeli Couscous Salad Ingredients
For a complete list of ingredients and exact quantities, please check the recipe card below.
- Israeli Couscous: Also known as pearl couscous because of the shape of the tiny pasta (it looks like tiny balls). Israeli couscous is larger than Moroccan couscous (or instant couscous) which resembles semolina.
- Broth: Although this pasta can be cooked in water, broth adds a ton of flavor from the get go! Use vegetable broth to keep the recipe vegetarian or chicken broth.
- Olive Oil: I drizzle the vegetables with olive oil before grilling them. Olive oil adds flavor and helps with the grilling process.
- Balsamic Vinegar: I love seasoning veggies well before they get grilled. Balsamic adds such wonderful Mediterranean flavor to this tasty salad.
- Vegetables: Seasonal veggies always taste better! Choose whatever is fresh at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. During the summer months, use up your garden veggies. Asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and onions are also good options.
- Fresh Herbs: I used fresh basil and mint. Fresh oregano, parsley, tarragon and cilantro also work well.
- Lemon Vinaigrette: This simple vinaigrette is made with fresh lemon juice. Using fresh lemons is a must! Bottled juice can’t compare to real lemons. Other ingredients in this vinaigrette are olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and ground black pepper.
How to Make This Pasta Salad Recipe
Check the printable recipe card below for detailed instructions and cooking times.
- First things first! Make the fresh lemon dressing by combining all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.
- To give the couscous a nice nutty flavor, we toast it or sauté it first in a medium saucepan over medium heat until lightly golden brown.
- Next, add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and fluff the couscous with a fork. Easy right?
- Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix until all the vegetables are coated. Set aside while heating the grill. You can also use a grill pan indoors.
- Grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred.
- In a medium bowl, mix the grilled vegetables with the Israeli couscous. Toss with the vinaigrette. Add the fresh mint and basil and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy pure perfection!!
Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
Grilling veggies enhances their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. You don’t have to wait for summer months to make this salad though. During the cold months, I use a grill pan with amazing results.
My favorite veggies for grilling are bell peppers in any color, zucchini, yellow squash, onions and asparagus. Eggplant and corn are also great vegetables to cook on the grill.
If you don’t feel like getting the grill heated up, you can sauté veggies or fresh raw veggies. Ripe juicy tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers and artichoke hearts are all great options.
The Simple Citrus Vinaigrette
The salad dressing or vinaigrette ties all the flavors of this cous cous salad together. It also adds freshness and brightness to the pasta. Our simple homemade citrus vinaigrette is made with just a handful of ingredients and can be whipped up in a few minutes.
What Is Pearl Couscous?
Pearl couscous also known as Jerusalem couscous, Israeli couscous, giant couscous, ptitim and pearled couscous, is a type of whole grain pasta made from semolina. It was developed in Israel around the 1950’s when rice was scarce. This tiny round pasta resembles small beads or pearls.
This type of pasta can be made into salads or used in stews, soups or as a regular pasta dish served with your favorite sauce.
How To Cook Pearl Couscous
Unlike it’s cousin Moroccan couscous, Israeli couscous needs to be cooked just like regular pasta. Pearled couscous has a mild nutty flavor. To enhance that flavor, I toast the couscous in a little bit of olive oil before adding any liquid.
For additional flavor, I like to simmer the couscous in broth instead of water. Vegetable broth or chicken broth are always my go-to.
Can I Make This Couscous Salad Ahead Of Time?
Yes! This salad can be made ahead. It actually tastes better when it sits for a few hours in the fridge. You can make it 2 days ahead of time refrigerated in an airtight container.
Is Israeli Couscous A Grain Or A Pasta?
Israeli or pearled couscous, just like any other couscous is a pasta made of whole wheat semolina mixed with water.
Making Ahead and Storage
The lemon dressing can be made ahead of time and it will keep stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The couscous can be cooked 2 days ahead of time, but because cooked pasta sticks together, it’s important that you toss it with some of the vinaigrette (or with some oil) before storing. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
The salad can be made 2 days ahead of time and can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
Leftover couscous salad can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Israeli Couscous Recipe Tips
- Don’t skip toasting the couscous in oil before simmering it. Toasting or sautéing the couscous adds a nice nutty flavor to the dish.
- I like to toss the Israeli couscous salad with the citrus vinaigrette while the couscous is still warm. This allows the pasta to soak up the flavors from the vinaigrette better.
- This couscous salad with vegetables can be served warm or cold.
- Use whatever vegetable is in season for best results!
What to Serve with Couscous Salad with Grilled Veggies
This salad makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish filled with nutritious vegetables. When served as a side dish, this pasta salad goes very well with so many proteins. Here are a few of our favorite recipes.
- Grilled Chicken with the Best Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Baked Pork Chops
- Easy Baked Cod
- Blackened Salmon
- Grilled Steak with Chimichurri
Take A Look At These Other Salad Recipes:
- German Potato Salad
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
- Tuna Pasta Salad (Mediterranean style)
Follow me on social media for more recipe ideas & inspiration!
Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
For the Grilled Vegetables and Couscous
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups Israeli couscous
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth (you can also use water)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and quartered
- 1 orange bell pepper, cored and quartered
- 1 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into planks
- 1 small onion, cut in half
- 1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
To Make the Vinaigrette
- In a small bowl or lidded jar, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Reserve until needed.
To Make the Couscous Salad
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the Israeli couscous and toast stirring frequently until lightly golden brown. Add 1 1/2 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and fluff the couscous with a fork. Set aside
- Place all the vegetables in a container (I use a sheet pan). Drizzle the veggies with the remaining olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix until all the vegetables are coated. Set aside while heating the grill.
- Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
- Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred. The bell peppers and onions take about 8-10 minutes. The zucchini and yellow squash take about 7 minutes. The asparagus takes about 4-5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the grill and when cool enough to handle, cut them into 1-inch pieces.
- In a medium bowl, mix the grilled vegetables with the Israeli couscous. Toss with the vinaigrette. Add the fresh mint and basil and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- The salad can be made 2 days ahead of time and can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Leftover couscous salad can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
This post has been updated with new photos and better content for the reader. The recipe remains the same