This pearl couscous salad recipe is made with nutty chewy pearl couscous, fresh diced vegetables, fresh chopped herbs, and the zippy brightness of lemon juice. This simple cold salad is the perfect make-ahead side dish for a spring dinner, for a picnic, or for a nutritious and delicious work-at-home lunch. The flavors in this salad deepen the next day.
What is Pearl Couscous?
Pearl couscous, also knows as Israeli couscous is a small pasta shape. It's made with wheat flour and water and extruded into tiny ball shapes which are then toasted, giving it its nutty flavor.
Ingredients for this recipe
Pearl Couscous: This is pretty easy for me to find in my small city, usually in the rice section.
Tomato: I like Roma tomatoes. I removed the seeds and squishy inside and dice the rest.
Cucumber: Peel it or wash it and then remove the seeds and squishy insides. Dice the rest.
Fresh herbs: I use a combination of parsley, dill, and cilantro because I love them all, but I will also just use whatever I have on hand!
Lemon juice: This freshens up this salad and enhances the herbs.
Cumin: For some earthiness that goes well with the lemon and herbs.
Minced fresh garlic, sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper: For flavor and seasoning.
You can try quartered cherry tomatoes in this pearl couscous salad instead of the Roma if you prefer, or whatever tomato you have on hand.
Extras: I usually keep this salad right here, but you could also add in a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil for some healthy fats, some finely chopped red onion for a bit of zip, or some chickpeas for added protein and satisfaction.
You could add some chopped olives, artichokes, and feta cheese for a Mediterranean pearl couscous salad vibe.
EXPERT TIP: Pearl couscous is dried pasta. You can also find it in the grocery store by the name Israeli couscous. I guess that makes this a pasta salad recipe then, doesn't it?
How to cook pearl couscous?
- Bring a pot with 1 ½ cups water to a rapid boil.
- Add 1 cup pearl couscous and a pinch of salt.
- Bring back to boil, then reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until couscous is cooked.
For a make-ahead meal: Cool the pearl couscous to room temperature before mixing with other ingredients.
To eat this salad right away and warm: Mix everything once the couscous has cooled for a few minutes.
Storage: Store this pearl couscous salad in the fridge, in a sealed container for 3-4 days.
What to serve with this recipe
You can eat this salad by itself for lunch, or for more filling dinner ideas try combining it with one or two of the recipes below.
- Greek Turkey Burger
- Chickpea Patties
- No Yeast Flatbread with Garlic Dip or Avocado Cilantro Hummus
- Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Creamy Dill Chicken
- Slow Cooker Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo
- Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza
Pearl Couscous Salad with Fresh Herbs
- 1 cup pearl couscous
- ⅓ large cucumber (diced)
- 1 large Roma tomato (diced)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt + pepper to taste
- To cook the pearl couscous bring a pot with 1 ½ cups of water to boil. Add the couscous and a pinch of salt. Bring back to boil, then cover and turn the heat down to maintain a simmer for about 10 minutes or until couscous is cooked. Let cool.
- In a large mixing bowl mix together all of the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Add the couscous, gently stir and then serve.
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How to make this salad recipe
Cook and cool the couscous according to the instructions above or the package instructions.
In a large bowl mix the other ingredients together and then add the couscous and gently mix to combine. I mix the other ingredients first to minimize crushing the couscous. It'll taste the same either way, this is just for looks.
Eat right away or store in a container with a lid, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Flavors will deepen the next day, making this recipe a great meal prep recipe.
Regular couscous and pearl couscous are made with the same ingredients and different methods. Regular couscous is formed by rubbing semolina into tiny bits and then drying it. Israeli or pearl couscous is extruded into small ball shapes and then toasted. Couscous is cooked by steaming and pearl couscous is cooked by boiling, similar to other pasta.
Boil pearl couscous for about 10 minutes, the same as maybe other pasta shapes.