This is the best Mediterranean vegan couscous salad! Toasting the couscous first is a simple way to add an extra layer of flavour. Toss with your favourite vegetables and a simple dressing for a super quick vegan meal, potluck contribution or BBQ side dish!
This super simple dish takes just minutes to prepare and is endlessly adaptable to your favourite vegetables or whatever leftover veggies you happen to have languishing in your fridge.
It’s what we make most often when we don’t feel like cooking and since the leftovers keep well, it’s a great make-ahead meal for your weekly meal prep.
What can I add to couscous for flavor?
There are hundreds of recipes on the internet for Mediterranean couscous salad and they’re all more or less the same. My recipe, however, is different than all of them.
The secret of this recipe is in how the couscous is cooked. Instead of just rehydrating the couscous with plain water, I first toast it in a dry pan to bring out it’s nuttiness and add depth.
Then I add vegetable stock for more flavour and let it steam for 5 minutes to rehydrate.
That’s it. These two simple tricks will make the most delicious couscous you’ve ever tasted!
Toasted couscous is the perfect base for whatever type of dish you’re creating. Add herbs, spices, citrus, nuts, your favourite veggies and dressings.
How do you cook couscous?
So to toast couscous, place the dry couscous in a dry pan over medium-low heat.
Couscous does not need to be washed prior to cooking.
After a few minutes the grains on the bottom of the pan will start to brown slightly. From now on, you’ll need to stir it regularly in order to ensure that all the grains get toasted and to prevent the ones on the bottom from burning.
Couscous can burn very quickly if you are not careful so keep an eye on it!
After about 5 - 7 minutes, most of the coucous will be a nice golden brown colour. Now you can take the pan off the heat and add your liquid.
The couscous the water ratio for this recipe is 1:1.
Pour in the liquid, I used vegetable stock for extra flavour but you could also use water, and quickly cover the pot with its lid.
Leave it to steam for 5 minutes then remove the lid. Gently run a fork through the couscous to separate the grains and fluff it up.
Done! Now you’re ready to add your salad ingredients.
What ingredients do you add to couscous salad?
Whatever you like!
Since I live on the actual Mediterranean coast, I used Mediterranean ingredients for this vegan couscous salad.
Chopped cucumber, cherry tomato, red pepper, red onion, black olives and chopped parsley. I also added a can of chickpeas to heartiness and because everything is better with chickpeas.
You can, of course, swap or add your favourite fresh ingredients. I often add diced avocado and a handful of arugula or other leafy green to my vegan couscous salad.
It’s rare that Mediterranean people bother with making a salad dressing and prefer to dress the salad with a simple drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Can couscous salad be made ahead of time?
Yes! This is one of our favourite meal prep recipes! It keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 - 4 days and is good served cold or at room temperature.
It’s also great for potlucks and as a BBQ side dish.
Can you freeze couscous salad?
While you can freeze couscous by itself, the fresh vegetables in this couscous salad won’t freeze well. I don’t recommend freezing.
What to serve with couscous salad
- Vegan Black Bean Burgers
- Vegan Stuffed Zucchini
- BBQ Tempeh Vegan Burrito
- Vegan Meatballs
- Veggie Skewers
- Vegan Stuffed Peppers
Vegan Couscous Salad
- 1 cup (180 g) dry couscous - $0.52
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable stock or water - $0.32
- 1 cup (150 g) quartered cherry tomatoes - $0.53
- 1 can (14-oz / 400 g ) chickpeas, drained and rinsed - $0.65
- ½ cup (75 g) diced red pepper - $0.14
- ½ cup (80 g) diced cucumber - $0.15
- ½ cup (35 g) Mediterranean black olives, pitted and sliced (like Kalamata or Spanish) - $0.21
- ¼ cup (30 g) diced red onion - $0.08
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped herb of your choice parsley, basil, cilantro, oregano, mint, etc. - $0.10
- Olive oil to taste - $0.40
- Balsamic vinegar to taste - $0.24
- Salt to taste - $0.03
- Pepper to taste - $0.03
- Place the dry couscous in a dry pan over medium-low heat. Toast the couscous, stirring frequently and keeping an eye on it as it can burn quickly, until golden brown - 5 to 10 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and pour over the vegetable stock or water. Quickly place the lid on the pan. Allow to steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and rake a fork through the couscous to separate.
- Transfer to a large bowl. You can serve this salad warm or allow the couscous to cool first. Toss with the chopped vegetables and herb(s) of your choice.
- Serve the salad the Mediterranean way with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper on the side for each person to dress their salad how they like.