What is cous cous salad?
Couscous salad is a dish that typically features couscous as the main ingredient, combined with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and sometimes proteins. Couscous itself is a type of small, granular pasta made from crushed and steamed wheat. It’s a staple in North African cuisines, particularly in Morocco and surrounding regions.
I’ve been absolutely loving this cous cous salad recipe. I’ve been eating it on a regular basis for months now but I’ve been trying so hard to wait for warmer months to share this recipe as its so well suited to BBQ’s and garden parties or even just a picnic. Everyone that’s tried this recipe of mine cant get enough! Its the perfect healthy lunch for spring and summer. It only takes 10 minutes to make and will last up to 3 days in the fridge. Its quite difficult to give a portion reference for dishes like this as they are typically more of a side dish than a main course but as I regularly eat this on its own as a main meal then id recommend this recipe creates 2 portions at 320 kcal each. If im not particularly hungry it could easily stretch to 3 portions at about 215 calories.
Do you have a diet restriction?
This recipe is great for the following diet restrictions:
- Dairy Free
Why is cous cous salad so healthy?
The couscous salad recipe is healthy for several reasons:
- Whole Grains: Couscous is made from whole wheat, providing complex carbohydrates and fibre. Whole grains are known to be healthier than refined grains, as they contain more nutrients and fibre.
- Vegetables: The salad includes a variety of colorful vegetables such as red pepper, courgette (zucchini), spring onions, and cherry tomatoes. These vegetables contribute essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to the dish.
- Low-Calorie Vegetables: The vegetables chosen are generally low in calories but high in nutrients, making them a great choice for a healthy salad.
- Vegetable Stock: Using vegetable stock instead of water to cook the couscous adds flavor without the need for excessive amounts of oil or other high-calorie dressings. It’s a healthier alternative to some other cooking methods.
- Healthy Fats: The optional addition of feta or a vegan substitute provides a source of healthy fats. While fats are often associated with being high in calories, they are essential for various bodily functions and can contribute to a feeling of satiety.
- Pine Nuts: Pine nuts are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. They add a delightful crunch and nutritional value to the salad.
- Lemon Juice: The lemon juice not only enhances the flavor of the salad but also provides vitamin C and antioxidants. It can also aid in the absorption of non-heme iron from plant sources.
Step 1: Make the cous cous
Firstly, measure yourself out 250ml of vegetable stock. If you don’t make your own stock this would usually be the equivalent of half a stock cube in 250ml of boiling water. Combine this with 100g dry cous cous in a large bowl big enough for all of your ingredients. Don’t forget that the cous cous will expand as is soaks up the water.
Step 2: Prepare the veggies
Whilst your cous cous is soaking up the stock, prepare your veggies. I’ve given quantities as a guide but like so many of my recipes this is down to preference. If you want more or less veggies then that’s fine but don’t forget this will change the overall volume of the dish. Likewise the size you cut your veggies is completely down to preference too. I like to keep my peppers pretty chunky but my son will only eat them if they’re chopped super finely.
Step 3: Mix the cous cous and vegetables together
Mix your courgette, pepper and spring onion into the cous cous. Then crumble in your feta and squeeze in the juice from half a lemon before mixing again. The lemon juice compliments the feta so well. It also keeps the veggies crisp and fresh whilst the cous cous salad is in the fridge. I’ve opted to keep the amount of feta low at 50g for the purpose of calorie control. If you are not trying to keep calories low then id definitely recommend increasing the amount of feta to 75g-100g.
Finally, transfer to a serving bowl before adding 6 halved cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of pine nuts on top.
Can I use a different type of couscous for this salad?
Yes, you can use regular couscous or whole wheat couscous interchangeably based on your preference. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Is there a substitute for pine nuts?
Certainly! Sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or chopped walnuts make great alternatives to pine nuts.
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Absolutely! The flavours often meld together beautifully when the salad is allowed to sit, making it a great dish to prepare in advance. Keep refrigerated until serving.
Is feta necessary for this recipe?
No, the feta is optional. If you prefer a dairy-free version, consider using a vegan feta substitute or simply omitting the cheese.
Can I customize the vegetables in the salad?
Of course! Feel free to add or substitute vegetables based on what’s in season or your personal preferences. Bell peppers, cucumber, or avocado can be delightful additions.
How long does the salad stay fresh?
Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the couscous salad can stay fresh for up to four days. However, for optimal texture, it’s best when consumed within the first day.
1. Mediterranean Twist:
- Add Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and crumbled feta for a Mediterranean-inspired version.
2. Citrus Burst:
- Incorporate orange segments and a citrus vinaigrette for a refreshing, fruity twist.
- Boost the protein content by adding chickpeas, grilled chicken, or shrimp.
4. Herb Garden Delight:
- Experiment with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or dill for an herby and aromatic profile.
5. Roasted Vegetable Medley:
- Roast the red pepper, courgette, and cherry tomatoes before adding them to the salad for a deeper flavor.
6. Quinoa Swap:
- Replace couscous with quinoa for a gluten-free alternative that adds a nutty taste and additional protein.
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