Lebanese Couscous Salad
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 :
- Garlicky Sumac Shrimp Grill
- Killer Kofta Bites
- Mini Cheese Flatbreads with Mint
- Pomegranate Glazed Roasted Leg of Lamb
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
Couscous is simply a form of pasta, made with semolina. Lebanese couscous, or maghrabia, is the largest couscous.
Couscous is both delicious and nutritious. Like most of the ingredients in this salad, including chickpeas and EVOO, couscous boasts a lengthy nutritional profile.
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, sautéed vegetables.
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.
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.
Couscous is simply a form of pasta, so it is high in carbohydrates.
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
Lebanese Couscous Salad Recipe
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
- 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.
I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!