Pearl Couscous Salad has an array of veggies along with the Israeli couscous including asparagus, olives, and more. A delicious lunch and this cold Mediterranean couscous salad is a great side at any family and friends gathering.
This recipe was really fun to create. A little of this and a little of that, taste and continue.
Everything came out perfect the first time around. I was on my own with this Mediterranean couscous salad though.
Ed is usually great in helping me taste my recipes but he doesn't touch condiments. No mustard, ketchup, or dressings which means no salads. He does fix cars and lay floors though.
Right now he is laying floors throughout our whole house. The seams are straight and it is gorgeous.
I'm treating it like a newborn baby and even laying towels around the dishwasher when I am doing dishes. That might last two weeks.
I love salads that are sans leafy greens for an occasional change. They are cool and refreshing which makes them a perfect foil on a dinner menu.
In fact, it makes a great lunch on its own. Who can argue with Pearl Couscous Salad which has lots of nutrients and is also low in calories?
- Vegetable broth - is used to cook the couscous and add nice flavor.
- Israeli couscous - makes up the main part of this high protein and high fiber ‘pasta’.
- Asparagus spears - are a special vegetable that people don’t eat often and they have a wonderfully unique taste.
- Kalamata olives - are deep purple and have a sharp tangy flavor.
- Roasted red bell peppers - give a sweet contrast to the dressing and olives.
- Baby spinach - is so good for you and it adds nice color and a contrasting texture to the salad.
- Scallions - are a great garnish and taste so good.
- Garlic powder - is a great seasoning but a bit sweeter than fresh garlic.
- Dill weed - is a buttery herb that brings a brightness for fresh flavor.
- Salt and pepper - are the perfect seasoners.
- Lemon juice - is a beautiful fresh juice that is perfect to mix with olive oil for salad dressing.
- Extra virgin olive oil - makes the dressing just right!
💭 What is couscous
Couscous is not a grain as many think. In fact, it can be a homemade product.
It's very much like pasta. Certain types of flour are worked with flour to make different size 'balls'.
There are several types as explained below.
👩🏻🍳 How is couscous made
Couscous is a tiny pasta made of durum wheat (semolina) or barley.
Although it was traditionally hand-rolled (can you imagine?), these days it's made by machine. Whew!
If you're curious about how it is made at home then coarsely-ground durum wheat (semolina) is moistened and tossed and rolled baked in forth in a bowl with your fingers and palms of your hands.
You just keep at it until it forms tiny, round balls. The size that you want.
📖 Couscous types
- The smallest is Moroccan couscous and is so small that it cooks in a very few minutes.
- Israeli is the next size that is about the size of a peppercorn. It is also called pearl couscous.
- The largest is Lebanese couscous and takes about 12 minutes to cook. The balls are about peas size.
🥗 More pasta salads
You can't go wrong with and Italian inspired dish with this recipe for Panzanella Pasta Salad.
I even named this filling dish Mediterranean Pasta Salad with its big bowties and balsamic dressing.
Asparagus Couscous Salad
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 10 ounces couscous, 1 Package, Lebanese is a larger couscous
- 8 ounces asparagus spears - one bundle or 1 tall jar of young asparagus
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ½ cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 cup baby spinach, torn
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dill weed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- dash ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a medium saucepan bring the vegetable broth to a boil.
- Add the couscous and cook for about 10 minutes, Drain and set aside.
Three options for handling the asparagus are below:
Option 1, roasted :
- Snap off the tough end of each spear. You can also cut about 1" off each end instead.
- Lay out, in one layer, on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Roast at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. Toss a couple of times during those 10 minutes.
- Overcooked asparagus they will become tough so be careful.
Option 2, steamed:
- If you would like to steam them then cut off the ends as described above.
- Cut into 2" pieces. Put in a steaming basket and steam over boiling water for about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
Option 3, jarred:
- If you are using jarred asparagus then drain and cut the spears in 2" pieces.
- Place the couscous into a medium-size bowl.
The remainder of the recipe:
- Add all the rest of the ingredients and toss lightly.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to meld.