This colorful, flavorful Mediterranean Israeli couscous salad is an easy make-ahead salad that can be served cold or at room temperature. It makes a great side, lunch, or potluck dish.
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Wanna know what comes to mind when I think about the holiday season?
Crowded malls? Yep.
Family drama? ‘fraid so.
Holiday cheer? Sure…
But also: potlucks.
Today I had TWO potlucks. That’s right. Two potlucks. One day. The first was at Jack’s daycare, as a part of the annual Christmas show. The second was a work event that I dashed to right after the Christmas show.
So here’s what I did. I made a double-batch of this Israeli couscous salad, split it in two, and it was a great call, if I do say so myself. This salad has all the makings of a perfect potluck dish.
It can be served cold or at room temp. It’s colorful and festive. And it’s a light, brightly-flavored dish that complements the usual heavy potluck casseroles well.
PLUS, (and this is the best part), everyone loves it. And this means I didn’t have to worry about taking home any leftovers.
What is Israeli (or pearl) Couscous?
Israeli couscous (also known as pearl couscous, or ptitim) is a thing I discovered a couple of years ago, and it has become my go-to filler for sides and salads.
If you’re not familiar with it, it is like regular couscous, but bigger. In fact I have seen it in various sizes, from a small pearl to almost the size of a chick pea. It doesn’t have the fluffy texture of regular couscous, but is a nice change from the usual grains and pasta shapes.
I find Israeli couscous pretty easily in my grocery store these days, but if you have trouble finding it, you can get it here. Or you can totally use regular couscous instead.
Adding saffron to the cooking liquid gives the couscous a great taste and a pretty golden hue, but that’s also optional!
The rest of the ingredients in this Israeli couscous salad are pretty traditional Mediterranean, and I throw in some pomegranate seeds for a little festive, tangy crunch. Feel free to sub with raisins or cranberries if that’s what you have on hand.
I first made this Mediterranean Israeli couscous salad last year for a New Year’s Day detox salad potluck with some friends. It was a hit then, and it is a hit now!
Can’t Get Enough Couscous? Me neither! Here are a few other couscous recipes.
Red pepper carrot soup with couscous. A little harissa paste gives this soup great flavor.
Curried Couscous Salad. Quick and easy to pull off and makes a terrific side with grilled meats.
Mediterranean Buddha Bowls. Super healthy and packed with flavor and texture.
Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Salad
- 2 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
- 4 cups water or vegetable stock
- a few saffron threads
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/3 cup black olives (optional)
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Bring water or stock to a boil. Cook couscous for the length of time indicated on the package. (Mine was 8 minutes, but this likely depends on the size of the couscous). Cool the couscous completely, stirring now and then.
- Put the salad ingredients in a large bowl and add the cooled couscous.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add to salad and toss until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.