This Israeli Couscous Salad is packed with delicious ingredients like artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pomegranate, chickpeas, and more! This vegan couscous salad makes a great main meal, or side dish, and is perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks.
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Israeli Couscous Salad
I made this Israeli Couscous Salad for our 10th Wedding Anniversary Party. It went down really well on the buffet table, along with the other salad that I made – Greek Orzo Salad with Feta.
I think I preface most, if not all of my salad recipes with the fact that I love salads! I enjoy making them and eating them too. They are so versatile and can be made with just about any ingredient.
Not only are the ingredients versatile, but the humble salad also works as a starter or appetizer, as a main dish, or as a side dish. And of course, they’re great for serving a crowd, so perfect for preparing for parties, picnics, or for taking to a potluck.
Salads are also fab for preparing in advance as part of your meal prep routine. I like to make them for the working week ahead, and store in glass [Mason] jars which I have found keeps food amazingly fresh for the whole week. Make this Israelis Couscous Salad to take to work, school, or college. I’ve got a whole series of recipes for Packed Lunches which you might want to read next.
Ingredients used in this recipe
This salad is filled with so many tasty ingredients – if there is something you don’t like, then simply leave it out. Most of the salad recipes that I have on The Purple Pumpkin Blog can easily be adjusted to suit your personal tastes.
I found all of the ingredients for this couscous salad in my local supermarket, so you shouldn’t have a problem sourcing them. But just in case you do, I’ve provided Amazon affiliate links below to help you.
Let’s start off with the main ingredient – Israeli Couscous aka Giant Couscous, Ptitim, Maftouc, Mograbiah, Gredola, Jerusalem Couscous, Pearl Couscous or Ben-Gurion Rice… quite a lot of names, right? I’m providing all of the names (that I found!) so you can grab the correct item from the store.
With a name giant couscous, you might be thinking it’s just a bigger version of regular couscous (which is what I thought); but it’s not! Couscous is made with semolina, whereas the giant version is made with various types of flour, and essentially is small balls of pasta. It was invented in the 1950s, after Israel’s first president, David Ben-Gurion asked the Osem Food Company to devise a wheat-based substitute for rice during the country’s austerity period.
Israeli couscous (or any of the other name variants!) is toasted, rather than dried, so this gives it a nutty flavour, with a light, yet hearty texture. If you’ve never tried it before, I highly recommend it as an ingredient, and of course, to try my recipe. To give some extra flavour to the giant couscous I use a vegetable stock (bouillon) cube in the boiling water that I cook the couscous in.
There are a few fresh ingredients in this recipe – lemon juice, flat-leaf parsley, and pomegranate seeds. You can buy a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds yourself (I have a hack for that!). Or you can buy a container of the seeds – so the work has been done for you.
Interestingly, as I was researching pomegranate seeds, I found out that they are actually called arils (at least in the USA, when I searched for them on a supermarket website!). The package was 4.3 ounces, which is 122g, or just over 2/3 of a cup. However, in the UK, the package I buy is around 80g, so I tend to get two, to use in large salad recipes. How this transfers to an actual whole pomegranate fruit I do, not, know… And now you see why it can be a minefield writing recipes for a worldwide audience!!
I don’t know if I mentioned already, but this is a more-or-less recipe, in that if you use a bit more than what I state, or a bit less, it’s really not going to make too much of a difference!
You will also need:
- Fire Roasted Peppers – I buy this ingredient in jars as it’s so much easier than charring bell peppers and removing the skin myself.
- Artichoke Hearts
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Kalamata Olives
- Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans)
- Sultanas (also known as Golden Raisins)
- Pumpkin Seeds (also known as Pepitas)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
You may find that the bell peppers, artichoke, and tomatoes are packed in either oil or water – use whichever you desire. Mine were all in oil, which meant I just used slightly less oil in the salad dressing.
RELATED READING: Giant Couscous Salad with Roasted Aubergine, Parsley & Pomegranate
Equipment used in this recipe
When making this couscous salad at home, these Amazon affiliate tools may come in useful for you.
For my UK Readers: This recipe uses American cup measurements. Since I use this type of measurement often, I find it handy to have a set of measuring cups in the kitchen.
For my Non-UK readers: This recipe uses weighed measurements, so a kitchen food scale is always handy.
You will need a sharp knife and chopping board for preparing all the ingredients, as well as a bowl to mix the salad together in. You can serve in the same mixing bowl if you like, or transfer to a pretty serving bowl. If making the salad in advance (which you can do – it stores well), then keep in an airtight container.
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How do I make Israeli Couscous Salad?
The first thing you will need to do is cook the big ol’ couscous. This is very easy – just place in a pan of boiling water, and add a crumbled up vegetable stock cube (bouillon) – this is optional, but I always add one, for a little bit of extra flavor. Follow the package directions for the cooking time.
Once cooked, drain and drizzle the still warm couscous with a little olive oil and lemon juice, then leave to cool.
You can speed up the cooling process by spreading the couscous out on to a baking tray; or if you are really pressed for time, run it under cold water, but skip the oil and lemon part – just add it all in at the end.
Once the Israeli couscous is cooled, it’s time to bring this salad together:
Grab a large handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley and roughly chop up the leaves, and finely chop the stems. Then give the roasted peppers a rough chop – throw both in a mixing bowl. (You’ll notice a few slices of garlic in the picture below – the peppers I bought had a few in there.)
Now cut the artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes into bite-size pieces and add them to the bowl – along with any oil that happened to have made it’s way onto your chopping board as you took the ingredients out of the jar/can – seems a shame to waste it right?
I bought pitted olives, and that meant I could just go ahead and cut them in half lengthways. I recommend you buy pitted olives when using in a mixed salad such as this, as it saves messing around with removing the pit.
Next, open the can of chickpeas and drain – tumble into the salad mix. You can rinse the chickpeas before using if you wish.
Grab a handful of sultanas/golden raisins (I explained all about this ingredient in my Broccoli Bacon Salad Recipe!) and add to the bowl, followed by the pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranates – people love them or hate them. I’m of Greek-Cypriot heritage, so it is in my blood to love them! But they can be tricky to get the seeds out. Don’t resort to buying the more expensive packs of pomegranate seeds – buy the whole fruit and use my hack!
- Cut the pomegranate in half – not through the stem at the top, but around the middle.
- Hold a wooden spoon (or a large spoon) in your dominant hand.
- Hold half of the pomegranate, seeds facing down in the palm of your other hand – make sure you splay out your fingers.
- Give several hard taps with the spoon onto the skin of the fruit. The bright red seeds (which I think look like little jewels) will pop out and start to tumble between the gaps in your fingers.
- Tap until the fruit is just an empty shell.
- You may find a few bits of the membrane come loose, but they’re easy to pick out.
- Make sure you tap your pomegranate over a bowl to catch all the seeds and any juice that comes out!
When the cooked couscous has cooled down, add it to the bowl of ingredients, with some more olive oil and lemon juice. Give everything a good mix and have a taste… does it need adjusting? More lemon or olive oil? There is likely to be enough salt from the olives, and if any of the other ingredients had salt in their packing process, but if you feel your couscous salad needs some salt, add a pinch and have another taste.
When ready to serve, sprinkle over some pumpkin seeds and mix into the salad.
If serving immediately, transfer to a serving bowl. If serving later, pop a lid on your mixing bowl (or transfer to a container that has a lid) and place in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve, give the salad another mix to distribute the ingredients again. You might find it needs another drop of lemon or oil, so give it a quick taste test!
If you are making this salad for a party, it can be prepared a day or two in advance and kept in the fridge (as above). It also keeps for a few days after too – it’s one of those salads that gets better after a day or two. We were eating this salad for 5 days (because: party leftovers!) as I keep food in airtight containers, and it helps food last longer.This Israeli Couscous Salad is packed with delicious ingredients like artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, olives, pomegranate, chickpeas, and more! This #vegan couscous #salad makes a great main meal, or side dish, and is great for serving a crowd at a party.
Make It A Meal!
I mentioned that this Israeli Couscous Salad could be served as an appetizer, main dish, or side, so I thought I’d provide you with some of my other recipes that you could use to turn it into a meal. Even though this a vegan salad, of course, anyone can eat it – I’m saying that as the recipes below may not all be vegan.
- Another Appetizer: Balsamic Mozzarella Stuffed Grape Tomatoes
- Another Main Dish: Cypriot Souvlaki (chicken kebabs/kabobs), Tzatziki + Pitta Bread
- Another Side Dish: Cypriot Potato Salad
- Beverage: Watermelon Lime Spritzer
- Dessert: Fruit Salad Cupcakes
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More Recipes Using Couscous
- Moroccan Couscous Salad
- Giant Couscous Antipasti Salad
- Cumin & Cinnamon Couscous with Chicken & Vegetables
More Vegan Recipes
After you’ve made this vegan couscous salad, you might be looking for some more vegan recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:
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- 2⅓ cup/300g Israeli (giant/pearl) couscous
- 1-2 vegetable stock cubes/bouillon cubes (optional)
- 4-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
- 2oz/60g fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup/140g fire roasted peppers (red, yellow, or mixed)
- 1 cup/160g artichoke hearts
- 1 cup/60g sun dried tomatoes
- ½ cup/60g pitted kalamata olives
- 15oz/400g can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained
- ⅓ cup/60g sultanas (golden raisins)
- 1 whole pomegranate, arils/seeds removed - see post for hack!
- ½ cup/30g pumpkin seeds
- Salt (optional)
- Cook couscous according to package instructions. Crumble in vegetable stock/bouillon cube for added flavor if using.
- Drain and stir in 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice. Leave to cool.
- Roughly chop the parsley leaves, and finely chop the stems - place in a large mixing bowl.
- Now chop the peppers, artichoke hearts, and sun dried tomatoes into bite size pieces. Add to the bowl along with any oil that ended up on your chopping board - don't waste it!
- Cut the olives in half lengthways and add them to the bowl along with chickpeas, sultanas, and pomegranate seeds.
- Add the cooked, and cooled couscous to the mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining olive oil and lemon juice (I have given rough measurements - adjust to your personal taste) and mix the salad well to combine all the ingredients. Taste test and add salt if you feel required. I find there is enough salt from the stock and the olives.
- If serving immediately, stir in pumpkin seeds.
- If serving later, or for meal prep, place Israeli couscous salad in an airtight container and refrigerate. Add pumpkin seeds when serving. You may find the salad needs a splash of olive oil and/or lemon juice - add according to taste and your judgement!
- Salad can be prepped a day or two in advance and stored as above. And lasts for around 5 days total in refrigerator.
- The measurements I've given are more-or-less - so if you use a little more, or a little less, it's not going to be a big deal. For example, the jar of artichoke hearts I buy has a drained weight of 160g, which is around 1 cup (168g, according to Nutrionix), but it is all good. I just about measure stuff when I make a salad like this - I just toss the stuff in until it tastes good!
- The amount of servings this makes will depend on how you use the salad (main, side, etc) I made it for a party with 25 people - but I know not everyone ate it! I have guessed it would serve about 12 people on a buffet/party food table with other dishes.
- You can speed up the cooling process by spreading the couscous out on to a baking try; or if you are really pressed for time, run it under cold water, but skip the oil and lemon part - just add it all in at the end.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 180mg Carbohydrates: 28g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 8g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g
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