Israeli Couscous Salad

israeli-couscous-salad

Say hello to this flavorful Israeli couscous salad. This salad is delicious warm or cold and is packed with vegetables and protein.

A bowl of couscous salad.

There is no reason to serve bland, plain salads when there are salads like this Israeli couscous salad on the Internet. This Israeli couscous salad really does have it all (minus traditional greens).

Make this delicious salad for dinner, as meal prep for the week, or as a side dish.

  • It’s packed with vegetables.
  • There are 17 grams of protein per serving.
  • Homemade kale pesto gives adds greens and amazing flavor to this recipe.
  • Israeli couscous has an amazing texture that is filling and delish.
All of the ingredients for the couscous salad in a bowl.
  • Israeli couscous: Israeli couscous may look like a grain but it’s actually tiny toasted balls of pasta. It has an amazing texture and is easy to prepare.
  • Kale pesto: we highly recommend making our homemade kale pesto to use in this recipe but if you don’t have the time any store-bought kale pesto will do the trick.
  • Cauliflower: we call for a medium head of cauliflower and mandoline the cauliflower. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a very sharp knife. Just be sure they are cut into thin strips.
  • Garbanzo beans: this recipe calls for garbanzo beans. They are tossed in a spice mixture and toasted to add protein and texture to the salad.
  • Butternut squash: you can’t go wrong with butternut squash, it adds creaminess to every dish it’s in. If you don’t have butternut squash, feel free to use sweet potato or carrots.

Kale pesto in a bowl.

Easy

Homemade Kale Pesto

Whip up a batch of kale pesto and keep it in the fridge for pasta, salads, or as a dip.

Save It

Couscous with kale pesto.

Make sure to scroll all the way down to the recipe card to get the full ingredient list and written recipe. This recipe is prepared in sections and it is important to follow the actual recipe card.

  1. Prepare the pesto. Add all of the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  2. Make the couscous. Toast the couscous in a saucepan and then add water. Bring to a boil and then cover. Simmer the couscous for about 10-12 minutes and then uncover and fluff the couscous if all of the water is absorbed. Add the pesto to the couscous and mix. Set aside for later.
  3. Roast the veggies. Season the butternut squash and and beans roast them for 15 minutes before adding the cauliflower to the pan and roasting for additional 10-ish minutes.
  4. Make the cold salad. Toss all of the ingredients for the cold salad for later. You will top the warm salad with a delicious, vinegary salad.
  5. Toss everything together. Once the vegetables are done roasting, toss all of the ingredients together and top with the cold salad. Enjoy immediately or place the salad in the fridge to chill.
Butternut squash, chickpeas, and cauliflower on a baking sheet.
  • This recipe has multiple steps that can all happen simultaneously. If you follow the method, you should be able to make it in about an hour. 
  • If you don’t have a mandoline you can slice the cauliflower with a sharp knife or just rough chop the cauliflower. 
  • We used our homemade kale pesto recipe, but you can use a store-bought pesto as well. 
  • Feel free to roast other root vegetables if you can’t find butternut squash. 
  • This salad is written to be served warm, but it is delicious cold as well.

Is Israeli couscous god for you?

Just like any ingredient, Israeli couscous is good for you in moderation. It is a great addition to any dish. It’s all about balance.

Is Israeli couscous just pasta?

Israeli couscous is pasta, not a whole grain.

What can I substitute for Israeli couscous?

You can use orzo in place of Israeli couscous for this recipe. You can also use millet, bulgar, or quinoa.

No matter what you use, be sure to read the packaging for how to prepare your substitution as it will be different from the Israeli couscous instructions.

Can I add any other vegetables to this recipe?

Yes, feel free to add any of your favorite vegetables to this recipe. If you are roasting the vegetables, just be sure to be aware of how long each vegetable is roasting because they may all need different times.

Let this salad cool completely and then store it in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Couscous salad in a bowl.

Kale Pesto

  • cup olive oil separated
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled
  • 4 cups chopped kale deboned and packed
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese medium grate
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Israeli Couscous

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups water
  • 3.5 tablespoons kale pesto

Butternut Squash

  • 4 cups butternut squash chopped into ¾-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Half the spice mix ~1.5 tablespoons

Cauliflower

  • 1 small head cauliflower ~4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Half the spice mix ~1.5 tablespoons

Other Ingredients

  • ½ large red onion minced (~½ cup)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup feta
  • First, make the kale pesto. Take the bottom of a glass or a large chef’s knife and place it over the top of each garlic clove and press firmly to smash the garlic clove just until flattened.

  • Heat 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add the garlic. Sauté the garlic until fragrant and slightly golden brown.

  • Add the cooked garlic to a high-powered food processor along with kale, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, walnuts, salt, and the remaining olive oil.

    All of the ingredients for kale pesto in a food processor.

  • Pulse the ingredients in the food processor to mix the ingredients and then process all of the ingredients on high for 2-4 minutes or until the ingredients become thick and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times during the processing time.

  • After the pesto has been processed it should be thick and creamy. If the pesto is still dry and chunky, add a teaspoon or two more of olive oil, scrape the sides, and continue to process the pesto until it becomes thick and creamy. Sometimes processing the pesto longer will draw the oil out of the walnuts which will add more moisture to the pesto. Set aside.

    Kale pesto in a bowl.

  • Next, cook the couscous. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium/high heat and add the couscous. Toast the couscous for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Move the couscous around with a spatula. Add water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let the couscous simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

  • Uncover the couscous, fluff with a fork, and add the pesto to the couscous. Mix until the couscous is coated in pesto. Set aside.

    Couscous with kale pesto.

  • Preheat the oven to 450ºF and grease a baking sheet with olive oil or line with parchment paper.

  • In a small bowl, mix the spices for the spice mix together until combined. Set aside.

    Dry spices for the couscous salad.

  • Add the butternut squash cubes to half of the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and half of the spice mixture. Massage the oil and spices into the butternut squash. Set aside.

  • In a separate small bowl, add all of the ingredients for the beans and mix until the beans are coated. Spread the beans out in the middle of the baking sheet with the butternut squash. Bake the butternut squash and beans for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through.

  • While the butternut squash and beans are cooking prepare the cauliflower. Break a small head of cauliflower into large florets and then mandoline the cauliflower. We used a Kyocera mandoline at a 3.0mm setting. Mandoline the cauliflower into a large bowl (you’ll have about 4 cups). Add the rest of the olive oil to the cauliflower along with the rest of the spices mixture and carefully toss the cauliflower with the oil and spices. It’s ok if some pieces fall apart.

    Cauliflower on a pan with spices.

  • Transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet with the butternut squash and beans and bake the cauliflower for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown and warm.

    Butternut squash, chickpeas, and cauliflower on a baking sheet.

  • While the cauliflower is cooking, add the onion, parsley, red wine vinegar, salt, and feta to a large salad bowl and mix to combine.

  • When the vegetables are done cooking, add them to a salad bowl with the onion and toss to combine. Add the couscous to the salad bowl and toss again. Top the salad with more feta and enjoy.

    All of the ingredients for the couscous salad in a bowl.

  • This recipe has multiple steps that can all happen simultaneously. If you follow the method, you should be able to make it in about an hour.
  • If you don’t have a mandoline you can slice the cauliflower with a sharp knife or just rough chop the cauliflower.
  • We used our homemade kale pesto recipe, but you can use a store-bought pesto as well.
  • Feel free to roast other root vegetables if you can’t find butternut squash.
    This salad is written to be served warm, but it is delicious cold as well.

Calories: 466kcal Carbohydrates: 59g Protein: 17g Fat: 28g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 7g

Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.

About Linley Hanson

Linley is a 5′ nothing spitball of positive energy who joined Team Fit Foodie in the Spring of 2014. Linley has worked on the digital side of small businesses and nonprofits since 2011, where she specialized in social media community management. Lin has a passion for food and an incredible palate. She is FFF’s chief recipe developer, so you can thank her for these incredible recipes!

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