This vibrant Israeli Couscous Salad is the kind of healthy, happy, easy lunch that you’ll spend your whole morning looking forward to eating.
Not only is it delicious, but this Israeli couscous salad with feta cheese, fresh mint, and smoked paprika-lemon dressing is also an easy meal to make.
It’s simple, nutritious, and perfect for a light meal or summer-vibes side dish.
This couscous salad blends fresh ingredients and bright flavors, backed by a subtly smoky dressing and nutty whole grains.
5 Star Review
“This is my all-time favorite salad/side dish recipe! I make this once a week without fail, and I get compliments every time I serve it! Super quick and so fresh.”— Kanya —
What is Israeli Couscous?
If you are not familiar, Israeli couscous (also known as pearl couscous) is actually a small, lightly toasted pasta.
It’s quick-cooking and makes a refreshing change of pace in cold pasta salads like this one.
Israeli couscous is healthy, and the pearls nestle into every forkful. It’s not overly chewy and allows the other ingredients to shine.
Israeli Couscous vs. Regular Couscous
What is the difference between Israeli couscous and regular couscous?
- Israeli couscous is larger in size than regular couscous.
- Israeli couscous is prepared by boiling, and regular couscous can be boiled or steamed.
- Israeli couscous nutrition differs slightly from that of regular couscous.
- Whole wheat Israeli couscous contains about 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per serving, and regular couscous has about 2 grams of fiber.
How to Cook Israeli Couscous Salad
Although you could add just about any mix of vegetables to a pearl couscous salad and have it turn out nicely, I am especially fond of the Mediterranean-inspired blend that we have happening in today’s recipe.
- Israeli Couscous. The delicious grain for our salad! I used whole wheat couscous (which I also used in this Avocado Couscous Grapefruit Salad) in this recipe. Because whole grains are higher in fiber and protein than their white counterparts (and thus more nutritious and satisfying), I prefer to use them in my cooking when possible.
- Lemon Zest + Juice. Adds brightness and acidity.
- Dijon Mustard. A zippy and tangy addition to the dressing.
- Smoked Paprika. I love the light smokiness that paprika adds to the recipe.
- Arugula. Gives the salad backbone and bite. Plus, it’s packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamins.
- Cucumber + Cherry Tomatoes. Both cucumber and cherry tomatoes bring delightful freshness and color to the salad.
- Feta Cheese + Mint. What truly makes the Israeli couscous salad beam. Promise me you will not skip these two. The feta is creamy and satisfying, and the fresh mint makes the salad taste alive.
If you’d prefer this as a hot Israeli couscous recipe, you could serve it warm instead (or give my Moroccan Couscous recipe a try).
- Cook the couscous (it takes about 20 minutes to cook Israeli couscous). Fluff and set aside. You do not need to rinse Israeli couscous after cooking.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients, then toss the mixture with the couscous. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the arugula, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and mint. DIG IN!
- To Store. Store leftover Israeli couscous salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Freeze. While I do not recommend freezing this salad as the vegetables will become mushy, you can freeze cooked couscous in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Meal Plan Tip
Cook the couscous up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate it in an airtight storage container.
For extra-filling leftovers, try Israeli couscous salad with chickpeas or good-quality canned tuna. The lemony paprika dressing in this salad is a fantastic pairing with the fish.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Saucepan. Perfect for making this traditional Israeli couscous recipe.
- Mixing Bowls. This set will help you prepare any recipe.
- Citrus Juicer. My favorite (and most-used) kitchen gadget.
Israeli Couscous Salad
- 1 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous also called pearl couscous
- 1 lemon zested
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 medium English seedless cucumber sliced and quartered
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
- ¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves chopped
- Bring 1 ¼ cups water to a boil in a medium (2-quart) saucepan. Add the couscous, return to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Taste and add additional seasoning as desired. While the couscous is still warm, add it to the bowl and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to allow the couscous to cool.
- When ready to serve, add the remaining ingredients: arugula, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and mint. Toss to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.
- TO STORE: Store leftover Israeli couscous salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
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