Vegetable Couscous Salad with Za’atar


I am in love with couscous salads that feature bright sunny flavor profiles from the Mediterranean and Middle East! Those firm round grains (couscous is actually a pasta) tossed with sunny vegetables and a lemony herbal vinaigrette is just so good. Featuring cooked pearl or Israeli couscous, this recipe for Vegetable Couscous Salad with Za’atar is vibrant with color, aroma, and taste. Thanks to earthy tomatoes and chickpeas, crisp bell peppers, crunchy toasted pinenuts, pungent onions, fermented olives, aromatic mint, savory sweet prunes, and a zesty lemony olive oil vinaigrette with za’atar, this salad absolutely shines with flavor. Not to mention nutrition! Plus, you can get this recipe done in just 20 minutes with easy ingredients you may have on hand right now. Feel free to swap out the vegetables for some of your favorites—try sliced cucumbers, chopped parsley or basil, and green onions, for example. You can serve this salad at room temperature, or enjoy it as a cold couscous salad recipe. Enjoy this dish, which is inspired by rich Middle Eastern and Mediterranean couscous salad recipe traditions, as a hearty entree salad for lunch or dinner (it’s wonderful for meal prep), and tote it along to picnics, parties, and potlucks. This healthy couscous salad recipe also holds up well in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Nutrition Notes

This completely plant-based vegan couscous salad is rich in nutrients, including plant proteins, fiber, healthy fats, vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and phytochemicals. Couscous naturally contains gluten, but you can make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free Israeli couscous.

What Is Couscous?

Couscous is a tiny round pasta made from semolina, which is durum wheat. There are many types of couscous, including Moroccan (the smallest), Israeli (or pearl, is larger), and Lebanese (similar to Israeli, but larger). The size dictates how long the couscous takes to cook. Couscous is delicious as a simple side dish with tagine or a vegetable curry, seasoned with herbs, nuts, and olive oil as a flavored side dish, or used in recipes, including salads, soups, and porridges.

What Is Za’atar?

Za’atar is a treasured culinary seasoning blend used frequently in Middle Eastern cooking. It often features thyme, oregano, marjoram, cumin, coriander, sumac, and sesame seeds. You can find it in many well-stocked supermarkets or online. Or make it yourself with my za’atar spice blend recipe here.

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Description

This super easy, delicious, healthy recipe for Vegetable Couscous Salad with Za’atar is vibrant with the sunny flavors of the Mediterranean and Middle East. You can make this vegan salad gluten-free by using gluten-free couscous.


Salad:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups Israeli or pearled couscous, dried
  • ¼ cup pinenuts
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 medium bell pepper (green, red, yellow, or orange), coarsely chopped
  • ¼ medium white or red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, whole, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup sliced dried prunes

Lemon Za’atar Vinaigrette:


  1. Prepare couscous (according to package directions, or the following instructions). Pour water into a small pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Place in colander and rinse with cool water. Set aside to cool slightly while preparing remaining ingredients for salad.
  2. Preheat oven to broil setting. Place pinenuts in a small baking dish in top shelf of oven. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. Be careful not to burn. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add sliced tomato, chopped bell pepper, sliced onion, chopped mint, chickpeas, olives, and prunes. Add cooked, cooled couscous and toasted pinenuts. Gently mix ingredients to combine.
  4. Make lemon za’atar vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, za’atar, salt (optional), and black pepper in a small dish.
  5. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, and gently mix ingredients to combine. Serve immediately, or chill until serving time.
  6. Makes 6 servings (about 1 ¼ cups each).

Notes

Couscous naturally contains gluten, but you can make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free Israeli couscous.

You can find za’atar in many well-stocked supermarkets or online. Or make it yourself with my za’atar spice blend recipe here.

This healthy couscous salad recipe also holds up well in the refrigerator for up to five days.

  • Prep Time: 12
  • Cook Time: 10

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