This dish is perfect to make in advance for tomorrow’s lunch or Friday’s potluck dinner. Serve this couscous salad as a main course or as a light side dish — my recipe features fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zesty mint, and snappy red onion. And need I mention it’s also low-fat and vegan? **High-five, health nuts!**
Are you curious what couscous is? I like to think of couscous as fluffy beads of pasta. It basically feels like that in my mouth. But here’s a fun fact: couscous is not really a pasta. Pasta, like your good ol’ spaghetti or macaroni noodles, is made from ground semolina. Couscous, on the other hand, is made of crushed durum wheat semolina. Crushed vs. ground semolina is the difference here.
Couscous is even easier to make than pasta. You can use any cooking liquid to make couscous, such as water, chicken broth, vegetable broth, etc. Remember that it’s always a 1:1 ratio of couscous to hot liquid. Grab a large bowl, dump in 1 cup of raw couscous, and then 1 cup of hot boiling liquid. (or, if you want, 5 cups of couscous to 5 cups of liquid. the 1:1 ratio is foolproof) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 5 minutes, then fluff up the couscous grains with a fork and voila! You got some couscous.
I like to serve my couscous with a plethora of fresh crunchy vegetables.
Here’s what you need:
Get raw couscous (but don’t get Israeli couscous. that stuff is usually called pearl couscous and it looks like little spherical balls. you want plain couscous or whole wheat couscous!). And grab some veggies, like tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, and a lemon. And some mint. Don’t omit the mint. It makes the dish superbulous. (superb+fabulous)
Grab a large bowl and dump the raw couscous in. Dump it in slow mo’, like I do here.
Dump in some hot boiling water (or any kind of broth or stock). Make sure it’s boiling hot. Remember that it’s a 1:1 ratio. I used 1 cup of raw couscous, so I’ll use 1 cup of hot boiling water here. All the grains should be moistened!
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it chill for 5 mins.
Remove the plastic wrap and rake the couscous with a fork. Nom.
Rake the whole thing until all the couscous is fluffy like this.
Grab a lemon and roll it around to get the juices flowin’.
Cut the lemon up. We want to squeeze it for some fresh juice.
This is about 2.5 tablespoons. That’s a little over 1/8 cup of lemon juice. (fun fact: 1 cup of liquid = 16 tablespoons of liquid) Toss the couscous in the fragrant lemon juice. There are very few ingredients in this dish, so I recommend you use fresh lemon instead of “lemon juice” from a store-bought squeeze bottle. That stuff ain’t real lemon. Don’t believe everything you see — just cuz the bottle looks like a lemon don’t mean real lemon juice is coming out of it!
Onto the veggies. Chop off the two ends of the cucumber.
Grab a spoon and scoop out the seeds. It’ll help your dish store longer in the fridge when you don’t have watery cucumber ruining the salad. Use the seeds for a refreshing face wash?
Whoa. What a weird picture. That cucumber looks super slippery, no?
Cut the cuke into long spears. We want to dice it up.
So… that medium-sized cucumber yielded over 1 cup of cucumber. That’s ok. I like a lot of cucumber in my salads.
Onward to the tomatoes. Cut them in half like this.
Squeeze out the seeds. Like with the cucumber, we don’t want watery tomatoes.
Slice ’em up.
And dice ’em up.
thyme time. Score the onion very finely so we get small pieces of onion.
Perfecto. That’s about 1/2 cup of onion.
Grab a handful of fresh mint leaves. You can’t omit mint (say that 5X’s in a row). It’s a staple in couscous salad.
Pack all that in a 1/4-cup measuring cup.
Now the fun part. Time to mix it all up. Add all the ingredients to the couscous.
Yay, mint. It’s so fragrant. I love it.
Toss it all around. And add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
And add 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper… Taste it. How’s it taste? Need more lemon? Salt? Pepper? Mint? Adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Now that’s what I call a healthy meal.
Couscous Salad Recipe (low-fat and vegan)
Total time: 13 minutes
Prep: 13 min
Cook: 0 min
Yield: about 5 servings
1 cup raw couscous (regular or whole-wheat, not “pearl couscous”)
1 cup boiling water (substitutes: chicken broth, vegetable broth)
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
2-3 plum or Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (substitutes: 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (about half a small red onion)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (large handful of leaves)
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, add raw couscous and boiling water together, making sure all of couscous has been moistened with water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 5 minutes. After, remove plastic wrap and run a fork through the cooked couscous, fluffing up the grains as you work. Pour lemon juice over couscous and mix thoroughly so couscous absorbs lemon juice.
Add chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and mint, and mix until evenly combined. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately, or chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.