Couscous Salad with Shrimp, in a serving bowl with a spoon

Doesn’t this dish just look happy?  Don’t you think sitting down to this cheery couscous salad with big fat shrimp and an herby dressing on a summer afternoon would make a person stop, and feel lucky—and hungry —and that it’s well worth taking a moment to pause and enjoy the fact that it’s summer?  That’s how it made me feel.

I made the recipe as it’s spelled out below, but then when I wrote up the recipe I felt like the ingredient list looked longer and fussier than this dish warranted, though it wasn’t complicated at all.  There are some easy shortcuts to take if desired.

Recipe Shortcuts:

1) Skip the peppers and the artichoke hearts if you don’t have them on hand.  They add nice color and texture to the salad, but are by no means critical to the success of this dish.  Other vegetables can be added as well.

2) Use store-bought pesto instead of making your own.  The pesto dressing is what makes this salad pop.

3) Use all lemon juice or all rice vinegar, instead of the combo – it’s fine.

4) Chervil?  Really?  I happened to have some, but no way do I suggest you going out of your way to procure this delicate, fluffy herb.  Even though it’s kind of awesome, and I am having a deep meaningful chervil moment this year.

Couscous Salad with Shrimp, Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto Dressing in a serving bowl

Mograbiah or Lebanase Couscous

Mograbiah often labeled Lebanese couscous is like Israeli or Mediterranean couscous, only even bigger – satisfying little fat toasted pasta pearls.  If you can find them use them, otherwise Israeli couscous is just fine.  Even “regular” Moroccan couscous would be right at home in this salad.  Just make sure you cook whichever variety you choose according to the package directions.

So many footnotes for such a happy recipe.  I’m clearly wanting you all to try it, so trying to remove as many obstacles as possible.

Oh, and last thing, I promise: I once made this salad with wheat berries instead of couscous, using a smaller amount, because they are much denser, and it was also fabulous.

Now I’m done.

Other Couscous Salads to Try:

Couscous Salad with Shrimp and Pesto Dressing

This summery dish pretty well underscores the thought that we eat with our eyes.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Israeli or Lebanese couscous mograbiah
  • 2 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ pounds jumbo shrimp in the shell 16/20 count
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • 1 shallot finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced seeded jalapeno
  • 1 cup diced well-drained artichoke hearts
  • ½ cup small-diced red pepper raw or roasted
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh chervil optional


  • Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the onion. Sauté until the onion is tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the couscous and stir until the couscous begins to turn golden and smell toasty, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender, and the liquid is absorbed. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with nonstick cooking spray (or a brush of oil), and spread the couscous out on the baking sheet to cool to room temperature.
  • While the couscous is cooking, make the shrimp. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and generously salt the water. Add the shrimp and cook for about 4 minutes until pink and cooked through. Drain the shrimp and transfer them to the ice bath. When they are cool, peel and devein the shrimp (leave the tails on if you like).
  • While the shrimp are cooling, make the dressing: combine 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, pesto, shallots, jalapeno, and salt and pepper in a container, and shake to combine.
  • Place the couscous in a shallow serving bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the artichoke hearts, and red pepper. Distribute the shrimp on top, and drizzle with the pesto dressing. Sprinkle over the chervil if using. Serve at cool room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 287mg | Sodium: 1140mg | Potassium: 352mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1000IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 221mg | Iron: 4mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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  1. Wonderful recipe! I didn’t have couscous on hand, so I subbed in farro. Did not have artichokes on hand either, so I doubled the red pepper. My shrimp were already shelled so I simply boiled them for one or two minutes. Then used the ice bath as directed. I used regular chicken broth (not low sodium) and I thought the salt levels were fine. Delicious and healthy! Even my 5-year ate it and loved it. :) Thank you for the great recipe.

  2. I’m planning to make this salad this week but I didn’t notice tomatoes in the ingredient list or on the recipe instructions. Maybe I’m missing something? Anyway, the recipe sounds great and I’m looking forward to trying it.

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