Mediterranean Pearl Couscous Salad

Mediterranean Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl couscous is the giant form of the more common tiny couscous. Makes a fabulous salad and is a great one to take to gatherings for something different that never fails to impress.

This Pearl Couscous Salad is fabulously addictive! Tender, flavour infused beads of couscous tossed with spinach, tomato, cucumber, herbs and a fresh lemon dressing. Summer in a bowl!

I adore the bright Mediterranean flavours in this salad! Great one to take to gatherings for something a little different that everyone always loves. Serve as a side (6 to 8) or a meal in itself (serves 4).

Also known as Israeli and gourmet Couscous, pearl couscous is the big brother version of the more common small couscous. Texture and taste like pasta – soft but a bit chewy, but has a pearly, slippery surface (hence the name).

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

 Servings: 4 – 8 people 



2 tsp olive oil

1 garlic clove , minced

½ small onion , finely chopped

1 1/2 cups (250g/ 8oz) pearl couscous (aka gourmet or Israeli couscous, Note 1)

1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth , low sodium

1 cup water


2 cucumbers , diced (about 2 cups)

250g / 8 oz cherry tomatoes , halved (about 2 cups)

3 cups baby spinach , finely sliced (Note 2)

¼ cup coriander / cilantro , finely chopped (or sub with parsley)

¼ cup dill , finely chopped

Lemon Dressing (Note 3):

2 tsp lemon zest

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove , minced

1 tsp sugar , optional

3/4 tsp cooking / kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper



Saute onion & garlic – Heat oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, saute until the onion is translucent and starting to brown.

Couscous & broth – Add couscous and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add broth and water, bring to a simmer. Then place the lid on and turn the heat down to medium low so it is simmering gently.

Cook for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is cooked through but still firm. Use a fork to separate the couscous, then transfer into a large bowl to cool. (It will form a sticky block but don’t worry, it will separate when tossed with Dressing).


Dressing – Place Dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.

Toss! Add Salad ingredients into the bowl, pour over Dressing and toss. Serve at room temperature.


1. Pearl couscous is also known as Gourmet Couscous or Gourmet Pearl Couscous. Basically, they are the giant form of the more common tiny couscous! Some recipes say to use a ratio of 1 cup of couscous to 2 cups of water. I find this makes the couscous too soft and gummy on the outside. Mine are cooked through and soft but “pearl like” on the outside rather than gummy, using a ratio of 1 cup couscous to 1 2/3 cups liquid.

2. Baby spinach – Use about 2 handfuls of baby spinach (approx. 50g / 2 oz), or even ordinary spinach leaves. Kale and silverbeet would also work well (remove the tough stem in the middle of each leaf). Be generous – this is a great way to pack lots of greens into this salad because it mixes through so well. Hidden greens!


The dressed salad keeps quite well for 2 days – after that the herbs are a bit too wilted. But it is best served fresh. If you are making ahead, keep the Dressing separate until just before serving.


This way of cooking the couscous flavours it so you can even serve the couscous plain as a side dish. If you want, dress it up a bit with a sprinkle of herbs, or a squeeze of lemon juice. Just imagine the possibilities!


This Pearl Couscous Salad has bright Mediterranean flavours so while the obvious pairing would be with all things Mediterranean, I think it goes particularly well with complex earthy flavours of Middle Eastern spices such as Chicken Shawarma, Middle Eastern Lamb Koftas and Turkish Koftas. Would also be stellar with Greek Meatballs, yoghurt marinated Greek Chicken (skip the wraps in the Gyros), Souvlaki, Portuguese Chicken (skip the bread), Slow Roasted Greek Lamb. See my Greek recipes here and Middle Eastern recipe here. (New addition: excellent with Jerk Fish!)

6. Serves 4 as a meal or 6 – 8 as a side. Nutrition is per serving, assuming 4 servings.

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 477cal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 547mg | Potassium: 1352mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3582IU | Vitamin C: 116mg | Calcium: 270mg | Iron: 9mg


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