Lebanese Couscous Salad

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Lebanese Couscous Salad is made with larger Lebanese couscous, also known as maghrabia. This is such a versatile salad, and like a pasta salad it takes well to a variety of vegetables, spices, and herbs. Purchase Lebanese couscous in my online shop.

It was not until just a few years ago that I learned there is a couscous all our own, Lebanese-style. I was on a flatbread learning jaunt at the home of one of the masters in Lansing, and she pulled from her freezer a huge bag of what appeared to be frozen chickpeas. “These,” she told me, “are my homemade maghrabia.” I felt like I was not Lebanese even a little. “Homemade what?” I squeaked.

The love I have witnessed expressed by anyone who has ever eaten the traditional chicken and onion maghrabia stew is, well, nothing short of kookoo-crazy-favorite food-joy. We’re going to head down that recipe road here soon. But how about a quick and easy way to eat Lebanese couscous? As in: Lebanese Couscous Salad. Such a discovery, this salad! The texture! The flavor! My first run at the recipe yielded such a hurrah from every eater here that I realized this one will be a new tradition, a keeper we turn to all summer, all year, long.

Watch my video tutorial about this salad and Lebanese couscous

What is Lebanese couscous?

All couscous is made from semolina, a kind of tiny pasta. The little couscous pasta granules vary in size from standard (very small!) to large or pearl couscous. Lebanese couscous is the largest of the pearl couscous, just a little larger than Isreali couscous.

Why you’ll love this Lebanese Couscous Salad recipe

Fiber-Packed Couscous & Chickpeas. The salad features both dry Lebanese couscous and chickpeas, both of which are rich sources of fiber.

Quick and Easy to Make. This tasty salad is straightforward to prepare and ready to serve in under twenty minutes.

Perfect Salad to Serve at Summer BBQs or Picnics. Planning a family gathering or barbecue this summer? This Lebanese couscous salad is light, refreshing, and sure to be a hit with all of your guests.

Ingredients for couscous salad

For The Salad:

Lebanese Couscous. Use Lebanese couscous (aka Moghrabieh) for this recipe; find the couscous in Middle Eastern markets and Lebanese Couscous in my shop.

Chickpeas. Use cooked or canned chickpeas for this recipe. They add protein, fiber, and texture. Before incorporating them into the salad, be sure to thoroughly clean, rinse, and drain the chickpeas.

Cherry Tomatoes. Smaller tomatoes hold together better here and give the salad sweetness, color, and added flavor.

English Cucumber. These long, slightly sweet cucumbers provide crunch, color and fresh flavor.

Fresh Mint. Mint is THE Lebanese herb that we look for in our salads. Here, mint is such a natural addition.

Pitted Olives. So briney, olives add complexity of flavor and yet another texture to the salad. Choose any kind of olive.

For The Vinaigrette:

Dried Mint. Use crushed mint in the vinaigrette and/or dust on top of the salad. Together with fresh mint, this ramps up the mint flavor perfectly.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). A staple in most salad vinaigrettes, a little EVOO brings healthy fat, flavor, and binding to the vinaigrette.

Lemon Juice. For the lemony tang we love in our salads.

Pomegranate Molasses. A slightly sweet syrup of pure reduced pomegranate juice, akin to balsamic vinegar. This immune-boosting condiment is used in various Lebanese and Middle Eastern-style dishes like this pomegranate marinated flank steak.

Rice Vinegar. I find myself reaching for rice vinegar for nearly every salad I make these days. This East-Asian condiment is made from fermented rice and is often used in salad dressings for an added clean, crisp flavor.

How to make Lebanese Couscous Salad. It’s easy!

Step 1: Cook the Lebanese couscous the same way you cook pasta. Use lots of salted, boiling water, then drain.

Step 2: To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in pomegranate molasses, dried mint, garlic, salt, and black pepper to taste.

Step 3: Toss the salad with the pre-made vinaigrette and sprinkle with the remaining fresh mint.

Tips, Substitutions and Additions for this recipe

Roast your chickpeas. If you want crunchy, crouton-style roasted chickpeas, bake them in the oven on a baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes, shaking them every ten minutes or so. They elevate your salad to even tastier heights!

Add extra protein. Add your favorite protein to the salad; I like to add grilled chicken, tofu, or shrimp. Leafy greens like kale or spinach also make a terrific addition to Lebanese couscous salad.

Substitute Lebanese (Moghrabieh) couscous with Israeli-style pearl or Moroccan couscous if that is all you have in your pantry. You can use the same measurements, about 2 cups of dry couscous.

Try fresh basil if you do not have fresh mint. The herb has a similar bright, forward flavor that can take the place of fresh mint.

What to serve with Lebanese Couscous Salad

A salad this hearty works as a side or a main dish. Here are favorite recipes that pair well with this Lebanese couscous salad :

How to store Lebanese Couscous Salad

You can store any leftover Lebanese couscous salad in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

The couscous salad may also be frozen for about three to four months before it starts to lose its flavor. Seal the salad in a freezer-safe bag or air-tight container for optimal results. It’s best to add fresh herbs when serving rather than freezing the salad already topped with them, if possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is couscous made of?

Couscous is simply a form of pasta, made with semolina. Lebanese couscous, or maghrabia, is the largest couscous.

Is couscous healthy for you?

Couscous is both delicious and nutritious. Like most of the ingredients in this salad, including chickpeas and EVOO, couscous boasts a lengthy nutritional profile.

What is good with couscous?

Any variety of couscous makes a delicious base for salads and pilafs. Think of pasta salad and use that as a guide: vegetables, herbs, feta cheese, spices, legumes such as chickpeas or lentils. Add chicken or salmon for added protein, flavor, and variety. Also think of rice pilaf as a guide to warm couscous, adding onion, garlic, and sautéed vegetables.

What is Lebanese couscous?

Lebanese couscous is the largest of the couscous varieties, with a pea-sized ball about 1/8 – 1/4-inch in size. Buy it dry, like pasta, or if you can find it, fresh.

What is couscous salad made of?

A salad of couscous includes cooked couscous pasta along with a dressing or vinaigrette. Other ingredients can include chopped vegetables, olives, cheese, fresh herbs, and diced chicken.

Is couscous a good carb or a bad carb?

Couscous is simply a form of pasta, so it is high in carbohydrates.

Can I make couscous ahead of time?

Yes, make the salad up to two days in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve cold.

More Lebanese Salad recipes and other favorite salads

  • My fattoush salad recipe is so delicious, it’s quickly become your new go-to salad!
  • This barley picnic salad is not only delicious, but it’s perfect for alfresco eating because there’s no mayonnaise to worry about spoiling in the sun.
  • If you love chopped salads, try this chickpea feta salad or this Lebanese village salad. Both are flavorful and refreshing!
  • If you’re looking for a protein-packed salad that’s going to keep you full, try this quinoa salad that’s full of quinoa, beans, and lentils.
Lebanese Couscous salad in an oval white dish
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5 from 2 votes

Lebanese Couscous Salad Recipe

By Maureen Abood
Think of this as a kind of pasta salad, with large Lebanese couscous as the star! The variety of fresh vegetables add so much color, flavor and texture. And those chickpeas! They pack protein, fiber, and a flavor we love. This salad is excellent for cookouts, holiday gatherings, and everyday meals at home. Make a batch and enjoy for several days, a great lunch or snack as well as a side dish people go crazy over! The couscous can be made a day in advance and chilled (drained).
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

For the salad:

  • 2 cups Lebanese couscous
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, or two Persian cucumbers, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (16 oz.), rinsed and drained
  • Handful loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

Instructions 

  • In a large saucepan, bring water with the salt to boil. Add the dry couscous and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  • In a 12-inch serving dish or bowl, combine the couscous, cucumber, tomato, olives, scallions, and chickpeas.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the pomegranate molasses, dried mint, garlic, lemon juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to combine thoroughly. Top with fresh mint and serve.

Notes

Be sure to watch my video tutorial above!

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 12
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14 Comments

  1. Hi Maureen,

    I am making this salad right now and I note in the directions “boil the water” but do not see how much water in the ingredients list? I assume it’s 1:1 couscous to water. Should this be edited?
    Thanks a million.

    1. Thanks Bonnie, I’ll clarify–cook the couscous as you would pasta, in lots of boiling water, until cooked through. Then drain.

  2. Hi Maureen,

    I am making this salad right now and I note in the directions “boil the water” but do not see how much water in the ingredients list? I assume it’s 1:1 couscous to water. Should this be edited?
    Thanks a million. I love your blog and your stories (and of course the recipes!) You have a gift for writing!

    1. Thank you Bonnie! I’ll clarify–cook the couscous as you would pasta, in lots of boiling water, until cooked through. Then drain.

  3. please help me find the couscous salad that has been on the back of plackage. The recipe I am looking for first tells me to put butter and couscous in pan and toast to get nutty flavor.
    I do not want the receipt using chicpeas.
    It has broccoli and carrots and peas in it
    Please send me this receipe. 607-725-4880

    1. Hi Joan, this is interesting, I will need to research the recipe you are looking for. Which package did you see it on? Sounds like a wonderful salad that I’d love to share.

  4. Hi Maureen,

    I have made so many of your delicious recipes and enjoy the stories and history that precedes them.

    While preparing this couscous salad (and kofta bites) to take to a Mother’s Day celebration I noticed in the instructions, although they appear in the list of ingredients, the photo and the video, you did not include the chickpeas when combining the salad ingredients. Just thought you would like to know.

  5. The salad is a breeze to make and tastes just like summer. I’m lucky to have a great grocer nearby to locate the maghrabia, pomegranate molasses, and fresh mint. We’re planning to grill your sumac shrimp as well.
    Thanks so much.