Whether you use it as a side dish or a meatless meal, everyone will love this couscous salad. Make it vegan too.
This couscous dish can wear many hats.
Primarily, it’s a salad or a side dish. However, it’s a light yet filling main dish.
Since it’s served warm, it’s a wonderful winter salad. But chill it and it’s great for summer too. But don’t limit yourself to those choices. This couscous salad is also wonderful served warm in the summer and cold in the winter.
Vegetarian And Vegan
If you’re a vegetarian who eats cheese, this will fit right into your diet. The sharpness of the feta cheese adds a great flavor dimension too. Couscous has a bit of “body” so there’s a chew factor involved that makes this salad a bit more hearty than the usual pasta salads.
Vegans, rejoice! If you leave out the feta cheese, this dish is completely vegan. You may wish to use a bit of vegan cheese to add a bit of character to it. If there is a rice or soy version of feta, that’s the way to go. However, a Parmesan substitute would work well too. You can even make your own out of nutritional yeast flakes. I understand that this really tastes like cheese too.
If you don’t follow a meatless diet, this couscous salad may also be made with chicken stock and it will taste just great.
Use The Right Couscous
There are different varieties of couscous. This recipe uses the Israeli or pearl variety.
And there’s even choices within the varieties. I used a tri-color couscous because I thought it would add a visual appeal. But the plain white will do just fine.
Whenever I make the pearl variety, I always toast it a bit in the pan before I add any liquid. It adds such wonderful flavor. Sure, it takes a bit more time, but I think it’s worth it. However, you don’t have to do that step. You can always just add the water and it’ll taste fine.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs finely chopped white onion
- ⅛ tsp dried red chile flakes
- 6 ounces pearled (Israeli) couscous (I used tricolor)
- 2 ½ cups vegetable -OR- chicken stock
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups roughly chopped spinach
- 3 green onions, white and pale green portion only, thinly sliced
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbs chopped fresh basil
- Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallots, the chili flakes, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add the couscous so it toasts slightly; about 5 minutes. Pour in the broth and simmer; you may season lightly with salt and pepper if necessary at this point, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the grape tomatoes, spinach, scallions, half of the cheese and the lemon juice and stir to combine and lightly wilt the spinach. Adjust the seasoning as needed and then top with the remaining cheese and basil. Serve immediately