This Israeli Couscous Salad recipe with chickpeas brings together flavors of lemon, garlic and cumin with fresh parsley. It’s a fast and healthy side dish salad and naturally vegan so it compliments so many meals!  

overhead of couscous salad with toppings before stirred together, hands holding bowl

Why We Love Israeli Couscous Salad Recipes

I’ve been looking forward to sharing my new favorite salad recipe with you–Israeli Couscous Salad bursting with parsley, lemony, garlic dressing and chickpeas.

Israeli couscous, also known as ptitim or pearl couscous is a pasta made in factories by mechanical extrusion. The small pearl-like beads must be boiled and drained, just like pasta. Ptitim was actually invented in the 50’s in Israel as a rice substitute.

Today it’s still popular and is commonly very simply prepared worldwide. Here in the United States, we mosty only see instant couscous which is added to boiling water, and then sits, off the heat covered for 5 minutes. 

This is what I like to call an all-seasons dish. If you’re serving it in warmer seasons, pair it with grilled chicken and a light yogurt sauce. If you’re making it in the winter time, serve the salad with a homemade hummus and roasted lamb. You can’t go wrong!

overhead of couscous salad garnished with lemon wedges

Key Ingredients For This Couscous Salad Recipe

Israeli couscous

You can find this in the bulk section of your health food store, or in the large supermarkets it’ll be with the rice and grains. Popular brands are Rice Select and Bob’s Red Mill. 

Chickpeas

To give this couscous salad more fiber and some plant based protein, I added a can of chickpeas. I like to use chickpeas that are packed in cans made without BPA lining. Eden is my favorite.  You can always soak and cook your own chickpeas, but trust me, this will save you so much time.

Ground cumin

This gives the dressing a delicious Middle Eastern flavor. Note: if you want to give this salad another flavor pop, add a half teaspoon of cinnamon in with the cumin! 

Additional Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped parsley

Step by Step Instructions to Make This Pearl Couscous Salad

Step 1: Cook couscous

Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water. Drain well.

Add israeli couscous to boiling water.

Step 2: Cook dressing

Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic in a small skillet and set over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling until the garlic is just starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add cumin and swirl for 5 seconds. Immediately pour the hot oil mixture into a large bowl. Add lemon juice, zest and salt.

add cumin to the garlic and oil

Step 3: Assemble salad

Add in the couscous and stir to coat. Add chickpeas, parsley, almonds (or pistachios) and raisins and stir to combine. Serve immediately or chill.

8. Add the couscous to the dressing and stir to combine. Add in the chickpeas, parsely, almonds and raisins and stir again.

FAQs and Expert Tips

Tips on how to cook pearl couscous:

Once you add the Israeli couscous to boiling water, give it a stir and cook (like pasta) until it’s al dente. You may need to turn down the burner to keep the pot from bubbling over. Once done cooking, make sure to drain through a fine mesh sieve or colander with small holes so none of it drains through.

How to salt this dish properly:

You may need to add a touch more salt if you are serving it cold. That’s because our taste buds are less perceptive to flavors when they are cold. And the couscous will absorb the dressing while it sits, and there will not be enough seasoning for the parsley, chickpeas, etc.

How to make this recipe ahead:

Once couscous is cooked, add to a serving bowl with the remaining ingredients placed over top (do not stir). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve it, stir it together. 

What to serve on the side:

Some side dishes to serve alongside are garlic hummus, roasted red pepper hummus, or my simple cucumber salad

Main protein dishes to serve alongside:

These Za’atar Chicken Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce would be yummy with this salad, as well as my Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs and this Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranate Molasses.

What to serve as a dessert with this salad:

This Salted Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies from David sound amazing!

Additional Mediterranean Recipes to Try

  • This Chickpea Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing is a great protein source for plant-based diets and is perfect to serve at potlucks, summer cookouts, picnics and barbecues.
  • Here is a delicious Roasted Eggplant Salad with chickpeas, parsley and feta mixed in. It has a rich and savory lemon and roasted garlic dressing.
  • With only 20 minutes of prep work, this simple Mediterranean Barley Salad is another easy recipe to add to your collection.
  • I love this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad! It’s like a cross between Greek salad and quinoa tabbouleh all brought together with a garlic lemon dressing!
  • If you’re looking for quick and easy you must try my 15-Minute Greek cucumber Salad with feta, olives and cherry tomatoes. It’s the absolute best! 

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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overhead of couscous salad with toppings before stirred together, hands holding bowl

Israeli Couscous Salad


  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 43 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This Israeli Couscous Salad recipe with chickpeas brings together flavors of lemon, garlic and cumin with fresh parsley. It’s a fast and healthy side dish salad and naturally vegan so it compliments so many meals!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup toasted sliced almonds or chopped pistachios
  • ¼ cup golden raisins

Instructions

  1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic in a small skillet and set over medium high heat. Cook, swirling until the garlic is just starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add cumin and swirl for 5 seconds. Immediately pour the hot oil mixture into a large bowl. Add lemon juice, zest and salt.
  3. Add in the couscous and stir to coat. Add chickpeas, parsley, almonds (or pistachios) and raisins and stir to combine. Serve immediately or chill.

Notes

For more flavor, you can add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the oil and garlic mixture with the cumin.

If you do not like raisins in savory dishes, you can sub in 1 large ripe tomato, diced.

Make Ahead Instructions

  • After you stir the couscous with the dressing, add the remaining ingredients on top of the bowl, but do not stir it together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then refrigerate. When you are ready to serve it, stir it together.
  • Note: You may need to add a touch more salt if you are serving it cold. That’s because our taste buds are less perceptive to flavors when they are cold. And the couscous will absorb the dressing while it sits, and there will not be enough seasoning for the parsley, chickpeas etc.
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 298
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Sodium: 283 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 8 g

Keywords: israeli couscous salad,couscous salad,vegan couscous salad,couscous salad with chickpeas,middle eastern couscous salad