Easy breezy couscous pasta pearls make for a quick great base for any dinner salad including this citrus Israeli couscous salad.
Couscous whether pearl or grainy is simple and easy to make. But as with any pasta or grain, it is very bland and in need of a flavor boost. This can be achieved in many ways, and in this recipe, I employ several methods resulting in a light, fresh, and exciting dish that deceptively appears complicated though it isn’t at all.
Though it is an easy recipe it does require some planning ahead. Sundays are my prep/work days in which I make all my standby flavor enhancers. These are pantry or larder items like sauces, pickled or fermented vegetables, infused oils, etc. My approach to cooking is put in the time to build an arsenal of flavor enhancers ahead of time. Then during the busy weeks make very simple dishes and rely on my larder items to perform the magic.
Citrus Israeli Couscous Salad Ingredients
Couscous by itself is just a boil and eat ingredient. I enhanced the couscous with pickled red onions and poached dried cranberries. The cranberries make this a magical dish. The poaching makes them plump and juicy, priming them for a mighty burst when you bite down into them.
They are crazy delicious and fun like edible pop rocks we used to eat as kids, so try not to pick them all out of the dish and eat them alone. The only other key ingredient was leftover grilled asparagus click here for recipe. I knew I’d be grilling asparagus so cooked enough for two meals and reserved a portion for this dish. This recipe has it all – color, flavor, texture, and aroma provided by cooking the couscous in orange juice vs. your normal plain water.
- Pearl/Israeli Couscous
- Orange Juice
- Pickled Red Onions (recipe included)
- Olive Oil
- Dried Cranberries
- White Wine
- Kosher Salt
How To Make Couscous Salad (Step by Step)
Step 1: Make the pickled red onions a day ahead
Thinly slice the red onion. Place onions and garlic in a large glass bowl. Add sugar, salt, and peppercorns to a small sauce pan. Add vinegar and stir until sugar and salt are both dissolved. Bring to a boil then pour vinegar mixture over the onions and garlic. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer onions and vinegar mixture to a lidded glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
Step 2: Make the cranberries
Put the cranberries in a bowl. Bring wine to a boil in small saucepan. Pour over the cranberries and let cool to room temperature. Let stand for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate up to a month
Step 3: Make the couscous
Heat a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Add oil. Add the couscous and toast for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally. Couscous should turn lightly golden. Add water and OJ, bring to a boil then reduce to low and cover. Cook until couscous is tender and all of the liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes).
Step 4: Grill the Asparagus
Pre-heat grill for high heat (feel free to roast or use indoor grill). Lightly coat asparagus with oil then season with salt and pepper. Grill 2-3 minutes to desired tenderness. Drizzle with lemon juice.
Step 5: Assemble the salad
Transfer the couscous to a bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs and
Dish goes well with lamb, chicken or fish. Try with any of these:
Cooking Tips for Israeli Couscous Salad
- Asparagus, after being cooked, will last from three to five days in the refrigerator. Refrigerate promptly in an airtight container. Cooked asparagus may be frozen and will keep indefinitely, but for best quality, use before 10 months.
- Israeli Couscous is such a versatile dish you can make a large batch ahead of time, refrigerate, then during the week add other ingredients to make a dish. The pearls work just like pasta so you can use in a cold pasta salad or with cheesy ingredients for a quick side
- For a bit more flavor, toast the dried pearls for a minute or two in a skillet before cooking
For other similar recipes you might like, try these:
Vegan Couscous Salad
If you make this Citrus Israeli Couscous Salad please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 1 1/3 cups pearl couscous
Pickled red onions Ingredients
- 1 cups sliced red onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp peppercorns
- 1 cup white vinegar
Grilled asparagus Ingredients
- 1 pound asparagus trimmed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon
Wine soaked cranberries Ingredients
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Add the couscous and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.
- Add water and orange juice, cover and cook over low heat until the couscous is tender and all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the couscous to a bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
Red Onions Instructions
- Thinly slice the red onion and peel the garlic. Place the onion and garlic in a large glass.
- Add the sugar, salt, and peppercorns to a small sauce pan. Add the vinegar and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Place a lid on the pot and bring the mixture up to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, pour the vinegar over the sliced onion and garlic. Press the onion down so all the pieces are submerged, then let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the onions and vinegar mixture to a lidded glass jar for storage in the refrigerator. The onions can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
Grilled Asparagus Instructions
- Preheat grill for high heat.
- Lightly coat the asparagus spears with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or to desired tenderness. Drizzle with lemon juice.
Wine Soaked Cranberries Instructions
- Put the cranberries in a jar. Bring the wine to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the cranberries and let cool to room temperature. Let stand for 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month.