Light and zesty, this Israeli couscous salad is perfect for summer entertaining. With the fresh flavors of herbs, combined with juicy, lemony tomatoes and brought together with the chewy texture of the Israeli couscous, this salad is freshness at its best! This salad is irresistibly delicious!
Why We Love This Recipe
This pearl couscous salad is my go to recipe for a summer backyard barbecue or pot luck. So simple to make, and the salad flavours are SO vibrant and fresh!
Like most of my recipes, I've relied on the produce doing the talking with the flavors, and the flavor combination you get from these ingredients in unbelievable!
You won't believe how much freshness and deliciousness can come from just a few simple ingredients like tomatoes, sumac, spices, lemon and fresh herbs! It's a knock your socks off kind of flavor hit!
Ingredients In This Recipe
Israeli Couscous - Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, giant couscous or ptitim couscous isn't actually a wholegrain, but a type of pasta! Unlike 'regular' couscous, Israeli, or pearl couscous is a rounder, heavier type of couscous.
Cherry Tomatoes - I think the biggest game changer is the way the tomatoes are prepared. The first thing you'll do is to marinade the tomatoes in lemon juice and sumac. The tomatoes become so juicy in the marinade, omitting the need for this salad to be dressed which is another bonus!
Sumac - sumac is a spice used typically in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. It's easy to find in most supermarkets in the spice section. In Australia we have Gewurzhaus which is an amazing speciality spice store! World Market may stock sumac in the USA.
Cucumbers - My favourite cucumber are Persian/Lebanese cucumbers. They are small in size and a lot sweeter than English cucumbers. You'll need two cucumbers, or about ½ - ¾ of a large English cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half, use a spoon to remove the seeds then dice into small cubes.
Red Onion - Finally, the red onion plays a most important part in this recipe. The intensity of the red onion does mellow out with the flavors of the lemon, sumac and tomato.
Feta Cheese - I use creamy feta cheese for this recipe. It melts a little bit when added to the warm couscous and easily spreads throughout the salad.
Fresh Herbs - I firmly believe, that the herbs are the backbone to this salad and absolutely make it, the best it can be! For this recipe you need about ½ a cup each of fresh mint and fresh parsley.
Step By Step Instructions
- Cook the Israeli Couscous:
- Bring 1 ½ cups of water with some salt to the boil.
- Add 1 cups of couscous
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the couscous is tender and water has been absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and fluff up with a fork.
It is a little sticker and gelatinous however, so it is better to work quickly and serve this salad almost immediately.
2. Chop all the fresh herbs and vegetables.
3. Place the tomatoes, lemon juice and sumac in a small bowl and marinate for 20 minutes.
4. Add the Israeli couscous to the bowl and fluff up with a fork. Then add my vegetables, herbs, feta and toss.
5. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the salad before serving, and save some of the fresh herbs for garnish.
Tips for Success and FAQ
What does pearl couscous taste like?
It tastes kind of like a chewy pasta, similar to a risoni. It's quite dense, and brings a lot of flavour and heartiness to a salad.
I actually prefer Israeli couscous to regular couscous, as it works wonders in salads and as a side dish, and just adds a bit more depth to a salad that I love.
I love using regular couscous as a base for Moroccan dishes like tagine or stew, but Israeli couscous brings a bit more oomph to dishes.
Does this salad keep?
This is one salad that I would make the day off, but it does keep ok for the day after. I usually make it within a few hours of serving it as the couscous can get quite sticky.
As it is a predominantly chopped salad, the freshness is compromised the longer you leave it, so I'd suggest making it just before you want to serve it.
It is that easy to bring together, even with the couscous cooking time, you're looking at under 20 minutes.
Does this salad have a dressing?
The salad doesn't need a dressing, because you have the olive oil, and sumac lemon marinade from the tomatoes which bring a beautiful tang to the salad.
If you're finding your Israeli couscous is sticking too much, add a dash of olive oil to the couscous instead of the finished salad and use a fork to separate it.
More Delicious Couscous Recipes to Try:
- Beetroot Goat Cheese Salad
- Moroccan Lamb Tagine with orange couscous
- One pot chicken stew with couscous
- Moroccan Cauliflower and Pumpkin Couscous Salad - from Whole Food Bellies
- Halloumi and Couscous Pomegranate Salad - from Whole Food Bellies
This salad is perfect for everyday eating, or to serve as a side salad at a dinner party or barbecue. It'll also make a great pot luck salad too!
This is the easiest recipe to make, and coming in at under 20 minutes, it's a no brainer if you need something quick and fuss-free.
This Israeli couscous salad is so light and fresh, you won't believe the flavor you get from 9 simple ingredients!
If you loved this recipe, I'd love for you to leave a comment and review!
G x x
Israeli Couscous Salad
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1 ½ cups water
- pinch of salt
Israeli Couscous Salad
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 2 teaspoon sumac
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 Persian/Lebanese cucumbers diced, or ½ an English cup or around 1 cup diced cucumber
- ¼ small red onion very finely sliced
- 5.5 oz feta cheese
- ½ cup chopped mint
- ½ cup chopped Italian/flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil to drizzle over at the end
- Bring the water and pinch of salt to the boil.
- Add couscous and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until couscous is tender and water has absorbed.
- Remove from the heat, and use a fork to 'fluff up' the couscous. Break up any larger pieces, then set aside in a salad bowl to cool.
Israeli Couscous Salad
- Place halved tomatoes, lemon juice and sumac in a small bowl and set aside to marinate while you make the rest of the salad.
- To make the salad, combine the couscous, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta and herbs together and toss well.
- Add your drizzle of olive oil, then garnish with some leftover herbs.
Really nice and fresh couscous salad! It was delicious!
Thanks Tavo, so happy you enjoyed it!
Tristin Rieken says
Delicious! I usually use quinoa for these types of salads but cooked pearl couscous for the first time using your instructions and it was perfect. Thank you!
It's so yum much different texture to quinoa I love it!
What a delicious and light looking salad! The ingredient combo sounds spot on perfect and I am hungry at the thought of this. Can't wait to give it a go, thanks!
Thanks Adrianne let me know how you go?
This salad looks so colorful and fresh! A perfect summer side dish to go with grilled chicken.
Thanks Biana, it's so fresh and tasty plus filling too with the couscous!
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
I have all the ingredients to make your salad including the sumac which I love. Can't wait to give it a try.
let me know how it goes Karen! hope you love it 🙂
Yes! So perfect for summertime! Love all the light and bright flavours in this salad. Pass me a bowl, please!
it's my absolute favourite salad for the hotter weather!!! i'll gladly pass you a bowl!
Israeli couscous is totally my new go-to for salads! I'm always looking for new inspiration for it, and this looks like a winner! Especially this time of year when the produce is so good!
I totally agree Ann! The produce is amazing right now, I'm loving it!
Annemarie @ justalittlebitofbacon says
What a lovely, summery salad! I love working with sumac and fresh herbs so this salad is right up my alley. I do hope that Persian cucumbers come your way soon though. Those are my favorites too and luckily here on the East coast we have them in all our markets.
that is so lucky!! and I managed to find them at Trader Joes!! So so happy!!!
I don't think I've ever had a couscous salad but now I really wanna try this!
it's so so good! really bulks out the salad a lot it's gorgeous!
Taylor Kiser says
This looks so fresh and delicious! It's the perfect side perfect for summer entertaining!