This Mediterranean couscous salad is pearl couscous with vegetables and feta cheese, all tossed in a homemade dressing. A quick and easy side dish that’s fresh, colorful and always gets rave reviews.
When I’m looking for the perfect salad to bring to a party or potluck, I turn to favorites such as zesty cucumber tomato salad, protein packed black bean salad, and this Greek inspired couscous salad.
Sometimes I want a big salad that’s not just made with lettuce. On those days, I turn to grain based dishes like this couscous salad. With plenty of fresh veggies, cheese and olives, this salad is packed full of flavor.
What is couscous?
Couscous is made with crushed durum wheat semolina that is formed into small grains or balls. It is similar in flavor to pasta, which is also made from a form of ground semolina flour. Moroccan couscous is the smallest type of couscous, and it looks like tiny pieces of grain. This variety cooks very quickly and is great to have on hand. Another form of couscous is Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous. This variety looks like small smooth balls, and is often cooked and prepared like pasta. I use pearl couscous in this particular salad because I find that the larger grains hold up well against the raw veggies. That being said, I’ve also made this recipe with Moroccan couscous with great results, so either one will work.
How do you make couscous salad?
Start by cooking your couscous, then place it in a large bowl with tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, parsley and olives. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, then pour it over the couscous and veggies and toss to coat. Stir in feta cheese, then garnish with additional parsley and serve immediately.
Tips for the perfect dish
- As I mentioned earlier, it’s fine to use either Moroccan or pearl couscous, they both will work!
- To save on prep time, you can cut up the vegetables and make the dressing up to 8 hours before you plan to serve the salad.
- Leftover couscous salad will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- I recommend buying a block of feta cheese and crumbling it yourself. In my opinion, the block variety has so much more flavor than the tubs of pre-crumbled cheese at the store.
Couscous salad flavor variations
This salad is fabulous as-is, but you can add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Grains: You can swap out the couscous for other grains such as bulgur wheat, quinoa or orzo pasta.
- Protein: Make this a meal by adding diced grilled chicken or shrimp.
- Vegetables: Amp up the flavor and add some baby spinach leaves, roasted red bell peppers or marinated artichoke hearts.
- Cheese: Swap out the feta with shaved parmesan or goat cheese for a different flavor.
- Herbs: Feel free to use other types of herbs such as dill, basil or chives.
Mediterranean couscous salad is great on a hot summer day, perfect for potlucks, and an all around delicious side dish!
More fabulous salad recipes
Couscous Salad Video
For the salad
- 1 cup couscous Pearl or Moroccan style, uncooked
- 1 cup cucumber diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives halved
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
For the dressing
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper.
For the salad
- Cook the couscous according to package directions, then place in a colander and run cold water over it to cool it down.
- Place the couscous, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, red onion, olives and parsley in a large bowl.
- Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss to combine.
- Add the feta cheese and stir gently.
- Sprinkle with additional parsley for garnish, then serve.