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This Mediterranean couscous salad recipe is a quick and delicious vegan side dish with pistachios and a lemon mint dressing.
I am always looking for a quick, easy and delicious side dish that is family friendly, and this healthy couscous recipe definitely fits the bill! This Mediterranean couscous recipe pleasantly surprised me when I served it to my family. I wasn’t expecting them to not only LOVE IT, but they completely DEVOURED it in one sitting!
Middle Eastern couscous is so light and fresh with the lemon mint dressing and the pistachios give it a pleasant crunch. This is literally ready in less than 10 minutes and goes perfectly with Mediterranean grilled chicken or shawarma, or really anything.
Before we get to this delicious lemon couscous recipe, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about couscous.
What is couscous?
Couscous is actually a type of small pasta made with semolina flour. It cooks quickly and can be made many different ways.
Is couscous on the Mediterranean Diet?
Since the couscous grain IS a whole grain, it is compatible with the Mediterranean diet. You are gonna love this Lebanese couscous, I promise. So if you are wondering “is couscous healthy?” yes it is! However it is not gluten free.
What can I add to couscous for flavor?
The lovely thing about couscous is that is it so versatile. Some people love to prepare the couscous and add fresh chopped vegetables, like tomatoes and cucumbers and even feta cheese. Other great recipes are couscous bowls like this Greek Chicken Couscous bowls from EazyPeazyMeals.
My favorite thing to add is pistachios! Please consider purchasing pistachios from Nuts.com . I am not joking when I say their pistachio nuts are THE BEST pistachios I have ever had! They are comparable in price to buying store-bought pistachios, but the quality is SOOO much better!
When it comes to flavoring couscous, always make sure to salt the water before boiling it. Don’t over salt either!
Is couscous vegan?
Couscous is made from semolina wheat and has no animal products added to it, so couscous is vegan and vegetarian on it’s own.
How to make this Mediterranean couscous salad recipe
Now on to the recipe, first off you need to buy couscous, not the pre-seasoned couscous, but plain couscous. This is very important! There is an instant couscous that is sold in a box and there is whole grain couscous, you want to buy the latter. It will taste better, cook better and it will be all around a healthy couscous recipe!
What is the couscous to water ratio?
The couscous to water ratio is easy to remember. It is a 1:1 ration of couscous to water.
Put the water and salt into a saucepan and bring the water to a boil. As soon as it is boiling, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, pour the measured couscous in, cover and remove from the heat.
Let is stand for 5 minutes while you shell the pistachios an chop the onion.
After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous and transfer it to a serving bowl, add the chopped red onion, pistachio, mint and lemon juice and stir.
Should you serve couscous warm or cold?
Couscous salad can be served either warm or cold. It does not stay hot very long, we usually eat it at room temperature, or shortly after cooking couscous. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Video of Mediterranean Couscous
I do want to say that the pistachios are divine in this recipe. I ran out of them when I made this recipe so I added toasted pine nuts as well. DELISH. This is the best vegetarian couscous recipe!
Why is my couscous mushy?
There are common mistakes made when making couscous. Mushy couscous is the result of overcooking the couscous. You really don’t need to boil it, or make it in an Instant Pot. You just need to add it to some boiling water, take it off of the heat and let is sit for just a few short minutes. If you boil it in water, or cook it too long, or use too much water your couscous will become mushy.
Why is my couscous clumpy?
On the other hand, couscous can become clumpy which is not ideal! If using a 1 to 1 ration of water to couscous, make sure to let is steam for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, then all you really need to do is to make sure to fluff up the couscous. Take a fork and fluff fluff fluff that cooked couscous and pour it into a serving bowl.
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- 1 ½ cups couscous
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ teas salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried mint leaf
- ½ teas garlic powder
- ½ lemon or about 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- ⅓ cup pistachio nuts shelled
- Bring water, salt and olive oil to a full boil
- Add the couscous, cover and remove from heat, let it stand for 5 minutes
- Meanwhile, chop the onions and shell the pistachios
- After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer it to a serving dish
- Add the mint, pistachios, onions, salt, garlic and lemon juice and toss together
- Serve warm or at room temperature, refrigerate leftovers