Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad

This toasted Israeli couscous salad is nutritious with chopped fresh vegetables and tasty, with zesty lemon, basil vinaigrette.  This salad is a great lunch or a healthy, flavorful side dish.  I like to serve it with Grilled BBQ Pork Chops, Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken, or Grilled Piri Piri Chicken.

Bowl of toasted Israeli couscous salad with minced fresh vegetables, herbs, and zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.

Israeli couscous is the big, pearly cousin of the tiny little couscous beads.  Where the traditional couscous just gets a soaking of liquid to soften, Israeli couscous gets simmered much like pasta.  

If you’ve never tried it, you are in for a treat.  It tastes like pasta but is a little more chewy- more like barley.  And it absorbs whatever flavors it is dressed or mixed with, so with the homemade lemon basil vinaigrette to dress the couscous, this dish is a flavor explosion.

Bowl of toasted Israeli couscous salad with minced fresh vegetables, herbs, and zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.

This salad is a tribute to my girlfriend who made it every Rosh Hashana with a gorgeous roasted chicken.  It was a meal that I looked forward to every year.  She has since passed, but making this recipe keeps her close to my heart.


  • Using an immersion blender for the dressing emulsifies it so it doesn’t separate as quickly.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the dressing.  It will help keep the dressing stable as well.
  • Take the time to toast the couscous before adding the chicken broth.  It gives a nutty flavor to the dish.  Also, cooking it in chicken broth also adds additional flavor.
  • I like to add some of the dressing to the couscous while it is hot.  It will absorb so much flavor from the dressing as it cools.  Save the rest to dress it again when tossing the couscous with the vegetables.
  • Mincing the vegetables so that they are similar in size to the cooked couscous makes for a lovely texture difference and looks pretty.

More side salad recipes to try:



This Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad is a beautiful symphony of textures and flavors with minced vegetables, herbs, and a zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.  It is a lovely lunch or a healthy side dish.

  • Author: Millie from Eats By The Beach
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 - 6 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Boil and toss
  • Cuisine: Israeli



For the dressing:

  • 1 large lemon, the juice and the zest
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pearl couscous
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped scallions, both white and green part
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil, more for garnish
  • ½ medium English cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chopped Roma tomatoes


Make the vinaigrette.  In a mason jar, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, basil, dill, garlic, parmesan cheese, and black pepper.  Shake vigorously or use an immersion blender to mix well.  Taste and adjust for salt.

Make the salad.  Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil.  Keep at a low boil.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil.  When hot, pour in the couscous and saute, moving constantly, until golden brown.

Carefully pour in the boiling chicken stock and cook until the couscous is tender.

Drain the couscous in a colander and add to a large bowl to cool.

To the couscous, add the scallions, chopped basil, cucumber, and Roma tomatoes.

Shake the jar of dressing to incorporate all of the ingredients and pour over the couscous and vegetables.  Toss well to combine.

Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Toss again and garnish with a sprig of basil.

Keywords: toasted Israeli couscous salad, side dish recipes, salad recipes, lunch recipes, lemon-basil dressing