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Mediterranean Couscous Primavera Salad Recipe with Feta, Olives, and Veggies
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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.
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!
- Very Useful Tips on Cooking with Garlic
Garlic tastes better without the green shoot, which is bitter. Here's a video of how to take the shoot out. And a selection of quick, simple Italian recipe ideas with garlic - used chopped finely, coarsely and used whole!
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.
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.
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.
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!