This lovely dish is a room-temperature salad made with Mediterranean couscous (also known as Israeli couscous or pearl couscous). It’s one of my perennial go-to’s when it comes to summer entertaining. It’s beautiful, it’s substantial, and if you have vegetarians at the table, it absolutely counts as a main course pasta salad, as couscous is pasta, not a grain! That’s a lot to ask from a pasta or grain salad, but Israeli or Mediterranean couscous delivers.
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Great for summer entertaining, this vegetarian Israeli Couscous Salad with artichokes, feta, and roasted peppers is best served at room temperature.Tweet This
What Is Israeli Couscous?
Israeli couscous are tiny balls of toasted pasta made from semolina flour and water. They are bigger and chewier than regular teeny tiny couscous. Sometimes Israeli couscous might be labeled Mediterranean couscous or pearled couscous. It is also sometimes called p’titim or giant 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. Or you can grill artichokes yourself!
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, 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.
Israeli Couscous Salad Ingredients
- Olive oil – The couscous gets toasted in olive oil before any liquid is added to give it more texture and a deeper, toasty flavor.
- Israeli couscous – Sometimes called pearled or Mediterranean couscous. You can definitely use the smaller version of couscous if that’s what you have or prefer.
- Shallots – The shallots are cooked with the couscous so they get soft and sweet.
- Broth – You can use vegetable broth to keep this salad vegetarian, or chicken broth if that’s not a concern.
- Lemon juice and zest – Using both the juice and the zest of the lemon really brightens up the salad.
- Roasted peppers – You can use purchased roasted peppers or roast them yourself.
- Marinated grilled artichoke hearts – Grill artichokes at home and add some to this salad, or get the ones from the jar or a good deli counter.
- Fresh mint or oregano – Adds a herby Mediterranean flair. Use whichever herb you prefer, or go for both, but definitely use fresh here if at all possible.
- Scallions – Make sure to use both the white and green ends for maximum color and flavor.
- Feta – Crumble it up, but not too finely, before adding to this salad.
- Fresh parsley – Adds a great green color and a fresh flavor.
- Make it vegetarian: 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).
- Make it vegan: The feta is optional, because you may want to keep this salad dairy-free salad (vegan).
How to Make Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta
- Sauté the couscous and shallots: Toast the couscous in olive oil in a pan for a couple of minutes. Add the shallots and sauté another couple of minutes, until soft.
- Simmer the couscous: Add in the broth, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or according to the couscous package directions. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the cooled couscous, peppers, artichokes, mint, oregano, scallions, feta, and parsley. Season and serve.
Make Ahead Israeli Couscous Salad
This salad can be made up to 2 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.
What to Serve With Israeli Couscous Salad
More Couscous Recipes
- 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
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Israeli 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 (or 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 color lightly.
- 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.