Pearl Couscous Israeli Salad is a delightful medley of flavors and textures, combining the unique nuttiness of pearl couscous with the freshness of tomatoes, cucumber, and mint. The zesty lemon dressing ties everything together, adding a burst of tanginess to this vibrant dish.
Whether you’re looking for a refreshing side dish or a light and satisfying main course, this salad is a perfect choice for any occasion.
*The full recipe is in the recipe card below!
Pearl Couscous (Israeli Couscous): Pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, is a type of small pasta made from semolina flour and wheat. Unlike traditional couscous, which is made from crushed durum wheat, pearl couscous is toasted to give it a slightly nutty flavor and a distinctive texture. The name “pearl couscous” refers to its shape, which resembles tiny pearls or small balls.
Tomatoes: Fresh ripe tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are a good choice since they are less watery. Cherry tomatoes are a great option too. Core your tomatoes and remove the seeds before chopping. Use every last bit of the red tomato flesh inside!
Cucumbers: Persian cucumbers are ideal, but English cucumbers also work.
Onion (optional): Yellow, white, or red.
Mint: Adds that Middle Eastern touch.
Salt and pepper: Season with your heart.
Add-ons: Pearl Couscous Israeli salad is incredibly versatile. Feel free to add olives, chopped bell peppers, feta cheese, corn, and chopped pickles (my son’s favorite).
Use fresh and colorful vegetables: Opt for ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and vibrant onions to bring freshness and visual appeal to the salad. The combination of different colors adds to the overall attractiveness of the dish.
Chop ingredients uniformly: Aim for uniformity in the size of the vegetable pieces to ensure even distribution and consistent bites. This will help create a well-balanced salad with a pleasing texture.
Let it marinate: Allow the salad to sit for at least an hour after dressing it. This time allows the flavors to meld together and the couscous to absorb the dressing, resulting in a more flavorful and cohesive salad.
Adjust seasoning to taste: Taste the salad before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add more lemon juice, olive oil, salt, or pepper according to your personal preference to achieve the desired balance of flavors.
Customize with additional ingredients: Feel free to personalize your Pearl Couscous Israeli Salad by adding ingredients like chopped bell peppers, crumbled feta cheese, olives, or toasted nuts for extra flavor and texture.
If you have leftover salad, refrigerate it as soon as possible. Place the salad in an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap or a lid.
Pearl Couscous Israeli salad will generally stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. After this time, the vegetables might start to wilt, and the flavors may diminish.
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Pearl Couscous Israeli Salad
For the Couscous:
For the salad:
- 4 tomatoes finely diced
- 4 Persian cucumbers or one English cucumber finely diced
- 1 small onion (white, yellow, or red) finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped
- Optional add-ons olives, chopped bell peppers, feta cheese, corn, and chopped pickles
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the Couscous:
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add salt and Couscous and sauté until it turns golden brown (be careful it does not burn). This should take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Carefully pour the boiling water (keep your face away from the pot, it can splash). Cover the pot with a lid and bring it to a boil.
- Once you have hit the boiling point, slightly move the lid so the pan will be open a smidgin. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and cover the pot with a kitchen towel before placing the lid on top (make sure to fold the towel edges onto the top of the pot to keep them away from the burner)
- Let it rest for 10 minutes (KEY STEP).
- Fluff with a fork and let it cool to room temperature.
Make the salad:
- Chop all veggies into small pieces; the smaller, the better, and place in a large bowl together with the cooked Couscous.
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper using a whisk or a fork. Whisk until thoroughly blended.
- Toss the salad with the dressing, and mix to combine. Let the salad "sit" at room temperature or in the refrigerator for an hour to let the flavors blend.