Karen Humphrey: Fresh and Fearless


Quick Israeli Couscous Salad Recipe

Great and easy go-to summer side dish

Israeli couscous salad

Salads are often a go-to side during the summer when you want something that doesn't heat up your kitchen or a lighter dish to go with something you've grilled. As much as I love salad, the same old tossed green salad every day gets a little boring. Who says you are stuck with strictly veggies? Try some grainy salads for a change instead of your usual sides and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much you love them. Often, I serve a grainy salad along with a veggie one, then some grilled meat (or these oven baked BBQ chicken legs) and dinner is ready!

Would it surprise you to know that in North America, Israeli couscous is considered more trendy, while in Israel it's a 'kid food'? Made from hard wheat roasted in an oven and shaped into small balls, this grain is pasta-like and less clumpy than the usual couscous you'll find at the store. Personally, I love the taste of Israeli couscous (sometimes also called pearl couscous) far more than the usual kind and enjoy simmering it with chicken broth as a quick side dish. While it may be a little trickier to find, I've had success finding it at London Drugs and specialty markets, or you can try the rice or ethnic sections at your local grocery store. If you have access to a Trader Joes, make sure to pick up their Harvest Grain mix, which is my family's all time favourite. We buy a bunch of bags whenever we go to the USA!


1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous, uncooked
1 small shallot, finely chopped (or use a couple green onions, finely sliced)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice
1 English cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp  chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (or basil)

Cook couscous according to package instructions.When it's finished cooking, rinse with cold water, drain well, and set aside. You want it to be a little on the cooler side, or at least room temperature so it doesn't make the veggies wilt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and shallots. 

Toss the cucumber, tomatoes, and dressing with the chilled couscous until well mixed. You may not need all the dressing, which is fine! Put the leftovers in the fridge. Stir in the herbs and stir. You can add salt and pepper to taste, or a squirt of lemon juice if you want. 

Serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Want more salads? Try this really popular creamy broccoli salad, easy Greek pasta salad, or my family's favourite small batch potato salad.