If you are fond of Mediterranean cuisine like shawarma, tabbouleh, shakshuka, falafel, or pilafs, you should definitely try this Seriously Good Mediterranean Couscous Salad. Moroccan couscous is paired with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cucumbers, yellow bell peppers, as well as red onions in this Mediterranean style salad. Drizzled on top is a light and herby lemon-olive oil vinaigrette.
With less than 300 calories per serving and all vegetarian and vegan ingredients, this couscous salad is a low-calorie dish. It makes a great lunch or side dish, perfect for vegetarians and vegans since the chickpeas add a nice protein boost.
Sprinkle it with a touch of nutritional yeast if you are eating vegan, or this couscous dish might be nice with a bit of feta cheese on top if you aren’t eating vegan. You can take it to your favorite potluck or serve it during a special occasion—there’s something for everyone in the mix.
WHAT IS COUSCOUS?
In 2020, UNESCO registered Couscous under “list of intangible world heritage” as an initiative to safeguard cultural heritages around the globe. Couscous preparation is a ceremonial process that involves different steps. Special sets of exclusive tools are used for precise execution that results in flawless teeny tiny couscous.
Various vegetables and meats are mixed with couscous to prepare it in different ways, depending on the region, the season, and the occasion. This dish is replete with symbols, meanings and social and cultural dimensions that represents solidarity, conviviality and the sharing of meals.
Couscous is made up of small granules of varying sizes from coarsely milled durum wheat called “Semolina”. The conventional way of making couscous is quite laborious. Firstly, semolina is dusted with fine, dry flour to keep the pieces apart after being sprinkled with water. Secondly, they are formed into little pellets with hands.
Any couscous pellet too small to form couscous granules falls through the sieve. They all are combined, rolled again. Dusted with dry semolina, and then passed through the sieve again. This process is repeated multiple times. Once all of the semolina is ground into tiny granules, it is dried in the sun.
This healthy food contains no cholesterol. It has 3.6 g of protein for every 100 calories and, furthermore, it contains a 1% fat-to-calorie ratio. Couscous is a mainstay of the cuisines of Maghreb – a region that comprises of western and central North Africa. It includes countries like Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.
The ingredients I used for this salad are:
- Couscous – I used the instant variety available at most grocery stores from Near East.
- Vegetables – I chose to use veggies like tomato, bell peppers, cucumbers, red onions.
- Herbs – Cilantro, basil etc. add a burst of flavor to this salad, so use a lot!
- Beans – To keep the protein factor high, I used boiled & sautéed garbanzo beans.
- Garnishes – adding olives lend this dish a tartness.
- Dressing – you can dress the salad with any vinaigrette you like. This recipe uses the basic lemon herb dressing called “5-minute sunshine dressing” on this website.
- Seasoning – I usually add red pepper flakes along with salt and black pepper to most of my dishes. Use seasoning per your palate and liking.
MAKE MEDITERRANEAN COUSCOUS IN 5 EASY STEPS:
- Strictly follow instructions on the package to make fluffy couscous – I have experimented enough with different amounts of water or olive oil, to understand why it is important to cook by the book or a couscous package in this case.
- Fluff with a fork, remove the lid from the pot and allow the couscous to cool down.
- Add vegetables, garbanzo beans, herbs, and feta.
- Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper for the dressing.
- Toss couscous with 5-minute sunshine dressing and serve!
Seriously Good Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- 1 Cup water
- 1 Cup instant couscous
- ½ Tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ Cup diced roma tomato ¼-inch dice Red
- ½ Cup diced english cucumber seeds removed, ¼-inch dice
- ½ Cup diced red or yellow bell pepper ⅛-inch dice yellow
- ½ Cup canned garbanzo beans drained and rinsed brown
- ¼ Cup minced red onion purple
- ½ Cup kalamata olives pitted and sliced
- 2 Tbsps. feta cheese
- 1 Tsp chopped parsley or dill
- 1 Tsp chopped mint
- 1 Tsp chopped basil
- ¼ Tsp dried oregano
5- Minute Sunshine Dressing
- 1 Tsp Lemon zest
- 2¾ Tbsps. Lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
- 1 Tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tsp Honey
- 1 Tbsp Basil and parsley
- 1 pinch Kosher salt
- ¼ Tsp Freshly ground black pepper, adjust according to taste
- 4 Tbsps. Extra-virgin olive oil
- Bring water, salt, and olive oil to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous and stir quickly. Turn off the heat and cover.
- Let couscous stand until tender, 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork and let cool.
- Combine couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, garbanzo beans, red onion, olives, cheese, parsley, mint, basil, and oregano in a medium bowl.
5- Minute Sunshine Dressing
- Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until a thickened dressing forms.
- Alternatively, add all the ingredients to a small jar. Place the lid on and shake the jar vigorously to form an emulsion.
- Pour dressing over the couscous salad, stir to combine.
- Store the dressing in refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- I used instant Moroccan couscous for this recipe, however Israeli pearl or Lebanese are also perfect substitutes.
- You can also prepare the dressing with white wine vinegar, apple cider, or balsamic vinegar.
- If you prepare double the amount of dressing, you can set aside half for a serving on the side.
- Sauteed cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes, stir-fried zucchini, oven-roasted squash, and other delicious vegetables are some I recommend using. Mix up the ingredients a few times to find a blend that works for you.
- Herbs like cilantro, mint, parsley, rosemary, oregano are also few other substitutes.
- Other protein options are brown gram, toasted chickpeas for the crunch factor, red kidney beans, cannellini beans etc.
- Take your pick from capers, pickled beets, pepperoncini etc. to use as garnishes.
- The options for dressing are endless – Balsamic vinaigrette, Lemon basil vinaigrette, Green Goddess Dressing etc.
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