This lovely dish is a room temperature salad made with Mediterranean couscous. It’s one of my perennial go-to’s when it comes to summer entertaining. It’s beautiful, it’s different, it’s substantial (and if you have vegetarians at the table, it absolutely counts as a main course pasta salad; couscous is a pasta not a grain, did you know that?) and it’s versatile. That’s a lot to ask from a pasta or grain salad, but that Mediterranean couscous, it delivers.
The feta, while in the title, is optional, because you may want a dairy free salad (vegan), or you may want the salty tangy pop of the cheese.
Israeli couscous is bigger and chewier than regular teeny tiny couscous, but you can definitely use that if that’s what you have, or prefer. Sometimes Israeli couscous might be labeled Mediterranean couscous or pearled couscous.
Grilled Marinated Artichoke Hearts
If you can get fresh grilled and marinated artichoke hearts, which often come with their stems still attached, buy them. They are pricey, yes, but they are so delicious, and really kick this salad up a notch. The first time I made this salad there weren’t a whole lot of artichoke hearts in it, because I ate so many during the prep. The second time I was more self-restrained. The only person who loves artichokes more than me is my sister, and she loves them in a way that some people love their children, that’s how much she loves them. Though she would not eat her children. I’m pretty sure.
You can however use frozen or canned or jarred artichoke hearts or baby artichokes. When you use oil-marinated artichoke hearts of any kind some of the oil remains even after you drain them, so that eliminates the need to add additional oil to this salad. If you use those canned in water or frozen, add a bit more oil when you’re tossing it all together at the end if it seems a bit dry.
This salad can be made up to two days ahead of time; just bring it back to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. You can roast your own peppers, or buy them, and if you do roast them they can be roasted up to 3 days ahead.
Use vegetable broth if you want this to be a vegetarian salad (always a good idea if you’re not sure if there is a vegetarian in the group).
What to Serve Artichoke, Feta and Roasted Pepper Couscous Salad with:
I served this with a Texas-style brisket sandwich. And during a particularly ambitious side dish moment it joined forces with Caesar salad, a chickpea salad, and a tomato, avocado and cucumber salad for a little buffet of choices.
Other Couscous Dishes:
- Couscous Salad with Shrimp, Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto Dressing
- Lebanese Couscous with Sautéed Kale and Lemon Dressing
- Saffron Couscous
- Mediterranean Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers
- Tomato Bruschetta Couscous
Artichoke, Feta and Roasted Pepper Couscous Salad
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups dried Israeli couscous
- 3 large shallots minced
- 5 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 roasted peppers peeled, seeded and diced (see Tip)
- 1 ½ cups drained and roughly chopped marinated grilled artichoke hearts 1 12-ounce jar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or oregano
- 6 scallions white and green parts, trimmed and minced
- ¾ cup crumbled feta optional
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the couscous and stir for 2 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until slightly softened about 2 minutes, and the couscous is coated with the shallot mixture and starting to lightly color.
- Add the broth and stir well. Bring to a good simmer, reduce the heat so the liquid stays at a gentle simmer, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed (check package directions as different types of couscous can vary). Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and zest, and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
- When cooled to room temperature, transfer to a shallow serving bowl and stir in the peppers and artichokes. Add mint or oregano, scallions, feta, if using, and parsley and mix gently until well blended. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve at room temperature.
Tip on Roasting Peppers:Super simple. Preheat the broiler or a grill. Take a whole pepper. Place it under the broiler or on the grill. As the side facing the heat bubbles and starts to blacken, turn the pepper to the next side. After about 4 turns, and 8 minutes, the whole pepper should be blistered. Take pepper, put it in a bowl, cover it with a dishtowel and let it steam. After about 5 minutes take off the dishtowel, and when it’s cool enough to handle, peel of the skin, and pull it apart so you can remove the seeds and core. Save as much of the flavorful juice as you can. Ta da, roasted pepper.
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