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Mediterranean Couscous Primavera Salad Recipe with Feta, Olives, and Veggies

Updated on July 25, 2013
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A Recipe for Better Couscous

I love couscous. Unfortunately, once taken home and prepared, the boxed couscous that looks so tempting in the grocery store usually bears little resemblance to the tasty dish found at restaurants. It's sort of like the difference between making macaronic and cheese from a box and putting the time into making it from scratch. Boxed couscous is so tempting because it's quick and easy, but making better couscous is barely any more time consuming and still pretty simple.

This recipe is for a Mediterranean couscous salad with black olives, feta cheese, lots of veggies, and plenty of flavor. The couscous cooking techniques can be used alone, though, so don't feel obliged to make the whole salad if you're just looking for a good couscous recipe! I used Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, which is larger than French couscous. I give suggestions for cooking both Israeli and French couscous, so the choice is yours.

Tomato Tip

You can use drained canned tomatoes, if you want, but dicing tomatoes is easy enough if you blanch them first. Don't know how? Check out my step by stop hub on how to blanch tomatoes!

Don't let a boring local grocery store cramp your culinary style - you can find Israeli couscous in bulk online.

Ingredients for Mediterranean Couscous Pimavera

For the couscous

  • 2 cups of couscous
  • 2 cups of water or 1 cup water, 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

For the Mediterranean salad

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, about 3 medium roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced or slivered carrot, about one medium/large carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion, or less, to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper, about half a pepper
  • 1 minced glove of garlic, or more, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives - about 12 medium olives
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice - about one large lemon

How to Prepare the Couscous Salad

1. Prepare all vegetables/herbs and combine them in a bowl with the feta cheese.

  • I like to cut the vegetables into very small pieces so they are about the same size as the Israeli couscous. Just look at the photos below and you'll see what I mean!
  • In order to get nice, thin slices of carrot, I like to use my Swiss peeler and then dice the resulting slices. I was famous for 'peeling' vegetables by turning them into squares until my dad gave me a set of Swiss peelers for my birthday and I absolutely cannot recommend them enough. Their carbon steel blades make quick work of any vegetable peel, they're easy to hold, and come with a potato eye remover. In short, I love them!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
If you don't have fresh parsley, you can substitute dried parsley flakes. A dozen baby carrots work just as well as one big carrot!Make thin slices with your veggie peeler.Then cut these slices for beautiful, thin pieces of carrot.Diced Kalamata olivesMake sure to mince your garlic as finely as possible, and then crush it with the side of your knife for good measure.Dicing tomates is way easier if you blanch them, peel them, and remove the seeds.Diced green bell pepper.Don't forget to add the dill to the veggies!
If you don't have fresh parsley, you can substitute dried parsley flakes.
If you don't have fresh parsley, you can substitute dried parsley flakes. | Source
A dozen baby carrots work just as well as one big carrot!
A dozen baby carrots work just as well as one big carrot! | Source
Make thin slices with your veggie peeler.
Make thin slices with your veggie peeler. | Source
Then cut these slices for beautiful, thin pieces of carrot.
Then cut these slices for beautiful, thin pieces of carrot. | Source
Diced Kalamata olives
Diced Kalamata olives | Source
Source
Make sure to mince your garlic as finely as possible, and then crush it with the side of your knife for good measure.
Make sure to mince your garlic as finely as possible, and then crush it with the side of your knife for good measure. | Source
Dicing tomates is way easier if you blanch them, peel them, and remove the seeds.
Dicing tomates is way easier if you blanch them, peel them, and remove the seeds. | Source
Diced green bell pepper.
Diced green bell pepper. | Source
Don't forget to add the dill to the veggies!
Don't forget to add the dill to the veggies! | Source

2. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. After it is fully melted and the foaming subsides, add the couscous, stirring to coat the couscous with melted butter.

3. Allow the couscous/butter mixture to cook until the couscous is lightly browned and slightly nutty smelling. This should take 5-7 minutes.

4. Once the couscous has browned, add two cups of water or one cup of water and one of chicken broth. Using chicken broth will make the salad tastier, but you'll be fine if you just use water. Remember that couscous is a pasta, not a grain. If two cups of liquid do not cover your couscous, add a bit more - you can always drain the excess liquid off. Stir to combine.

5. If you are using Israeli couscous, allow the couscous to simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed. This should take about 8 minutes. If liquid remans after 10 minutes, taste the couscous to test for done-ness. If it is finished, remove it from heat and simply drain off any extra liquid. If you are using French couscous, allow the pasta and water to cook briefly, about a minute, cover, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let it rest for about 8 minutes.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Melt butter until the foaming subsides.Add the couscous to the melted butter.Stir the couscous to coat it with melted butter.Cover the couscous with water/chicken broth - it should take about 2 cups.Finished couscous.
Melt butter until the foaming subsides.
Melt butter until the foaming subsides. | Source
Add the couscous to the melted butter.
Add the couscous to the melted butter. | Source
Stir the couscous to coat it with melted butter.
Stir the couscous to coat it with melted butter. | Source
Cover the couscous with water/chicken broth - it should take about 2 cups.
Cover the couscous with water/chicken broth - it should take about 2 cups. | Source
Finished couscous.
Finished couscous. | Source

6. While the couscous is cooking, prepare the salad dressing by combining the olive oil and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and then add to the vegetables/cheese. Use a fork to combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Measure the olive oil into a bowl.Whisk well to combine.Mixed vegetables and dressing - doesn't it look tasty enough to just eat with a fork or on crackers?
Measure the olive oil into a bowl.
Measure the olive oil into a bowl. | Source
Source
Whisk well to combine.
Whisk well to combine. | Source
Mixed vegetables and dressing - doesn't it look tasty enough to just eat with a fork or on crackers?
Mixed vegetables and dressing - doesn't it look tasty enough to just eat with a fork or on crackers? | Source

7. Once the couscous is ready, fluff it with a fork. This is more important if you're using French couscous, but you should still fluff the larger, Israeli variety.

8. Transfer the couscous into a bowl. Add the dressed vegetable and cheese mixture and stir gently, but thoroughly, with a fork to combine all ingredients.

9. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

10. Enjoy!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Add the vegetable mix to the couscous.Now all you have to do is wait to let the flavors mesh.
Add the vegetable mix to the couscous.
Add the vegetable mix to the couscous. | Source
Now all you have to do is wait to let the flavors mesh.
Now all you have to do is wait to let the flavors mesh. | Source
Source

Pasta Primavera Salad with Couscous

The next time you need a side dish for a potluck, picnic, or a simple meal at home, consider making this couscous salad with lots of veggies, black olives, and tasty feta cheese. Couscous is quick and easy to cook and this salad recipe lacks the gobs of unhealthy mayonnaise that coat so many other pasta salads. It is also very leftover friendly - just like a good soup or pasta sauce, the salad tastes even better on the second day than it did on the first.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and, as always, please let me know if you have any questions!

Comments

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    • Spanish Food profile image

      Lena Durante 3 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I love couscous, but I've never actually simmered it for any length of time. I always put it in the boiling stock or water, turn off the heat, and cover it. After a few minutes, it's ready to fluff and serve!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      It is always better with chicken stock! Basil sounds good, too. Thanks for stopping in!

    • thefedorows profile image

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      Feta and couscous...why have I not thought of this before?! I usually make couscous with chicken stock, then add some fresh parmesan and parsley or basil after fluffing it. This looks more like a meal. I think I might add some chickpeas too! Great pictures and directions.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Sorry I forgot to reply to you sooner, pstraubie48 - it's not like me! Thank you, belatedly, for coming by and bookmarking.

      Thanks for stopping in, Joy! I really appreciate the complements because I know creations are fantastic =)

    • profile image

      Joy @ Yesterfood 4 years ago

      Natasha, I love couscous, and this salad is beautiful! I love all the ingredients and all the colors! This is fresh and perfect for spring- thanks! :)

      Joy @ Yesterfood.blogspot.com

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Thanks for this. As much as I cook and as many times as I have seen Giada make couscous, I have never tried. This looks so good I am bookmarking it to add to my files.

      Sending you Angels this evening....have a lovely weekend. :) ps

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I really enjoy the larger Israeli couscous. I know a lot of people who prefer the smaller stuff and it's ok, but the larger couscous just has so much more body.

      Thank you for sharing and pinning! I really appreciate it.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      The Israeli couscous looks very very delicious, as though it might have a bit more crunch to it. I'd love to try your delicious looking recipe.

      Your hub looks very appetizing and all the ingredients so fresh.

      Voting and sharing and pinning too...everything!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Isn't there such a flavor difference when you have it at a restaurant compared to th couscous in a box? Hopefully this recipe can bring some of the flavor back =)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I love couscous and how it makes any meal a little more enjoyable. I have had it in some greek restaurants that really know how to add flavor to this simple dish. Thanks for the recipe idea.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much! It was difficult to stop and take photos of that bowl of couscous salad because I really just wanted to have it for lunch!

    • profile image

      Edi 4 years ago

      You did an awesome job with all the step-by-step photos here! This looks so tasty!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      On no! I can't imagine how terrible that was. If you can work up the courage, I urge you to try it again.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      My first experience of couscous was unfortunately in the form of airline food - hardly a good introduction to anything. That has left me wary of it but this looks absolutely delicious. I think it's definitely time I gave it another go. I love the idea of serving it with a Mediterranean salad - that's my kind of food. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I just had this pasta salad for the fourth meal in a row and I'm still not sick of it! Thanks for bookmarking and I hope you have the chance to try it out soon.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Delicious! I love kalamata olives, red onion and feta cheese. I rarely use couscous in my recipes, but always love couscous salads at restaurants or social gatherings.

      Definitely bookmarking this one! YUM

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I hope you like it! You can always add green olives, celery or celery seeds, or cucumbers for even more veggies and added flavor.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Looks and sounds delicious. Pinning and will try this soon as I'm always looking for new types of salads.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      It sure does! It's quick, easy, and can be used with lots of other ingredients. Thanks for pinning!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      couscous is a favorite around here. I like it because it cooks so fast. Lots of good ideas here. Voting UP and pinning.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      If you essentially fry it for a minute, it really brings out a delicious taste. I hope you give this method of cooking a try!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Couscous is cooked in my house but not the way you described it...would love to venture into it.

      Thanks Natasha :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I haven't heard of it being big in the South, in general, or NO, in specific, but you never know. Just because I'm from the South doesn't mean I know everything about everywhere!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never had it but I have heard about it. Seems to me, and this is my memory so I could be wrong, but isn't this dish big in New Orleans? It seems like the southern states eat this a lot. Oh well, thanks for the recipe and I might have to give it a try.