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This fast and flavorful Vegetable Couscous is the perfect light and refreshing side dish for your picnic or potluck. Every bite features the best of summer produce, with fluffy couscous and fresh vegetables tossed together with a zesty Mediterranean dressing.
When you want to celebrate the best of summer produce, make this Vegetable Couscous recipe! Like my zesty quinoa salad, it features a medley of vibrant Mediterranean-inspired flavors your guests won’t be able to get enough of at picnics, potlucks, and get-togethers.
This light and refreshing salad is easy to put together with fluffy couscous, fresh vegetables, and a zesty Mediterranean vinaigrette. It’s flexible, too, so feel free to put your own spin on it! Add your favorite protein to make it a meal, switch up the veggies, or make it with roasted vegetables. The options are endless!
- It’s a simple vegetarian side dish you can quickly put together for the summer potluck or picnic. You can even add protein to make it a standalone meal!
- From cooking the quinoa to chopping the veggies to making the dressing, it’s an easy side dish that’s ready in less than 1 hour.
- Easily mix and match the fresh produce with what’s in season to enjoy variations of this Mediterranean salad with couscous all year round!
Couscous - Couscous is a type of small, round pasta made from durum wheat semolina. Unfortunately, this means it is not gluten free. When cooked, it has a light and fluffy texture and a mild, nutty flavor. Both regular and Israeli couscous will work in this salad but keep in mind that regular couscous has a smaller grain size, while Israeli couscous is larger and is slightly chewier.
Tomatoes - Grape or cherry tomatoes add a juicy burst of flavor while giving the salad a boost of fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Zucchini - Don’t overlook raw zucchini for salad! It tastes great here and adds a variety of healthy vitamins and minerals.
Feta cheese - A classic Mediterranean cheese that’s salty, creamy, and crumbly. If you prefer milder cheese, try cotija, goat cheese, or freshly grated parmesan.
Basil - I used fresh basil, but feel free to throw in some fresh mint and parsley for a burst of bright and refreshing flavors.
Dressing - This vegetable couscous salad is dressed in a simple vinaigrette made from olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, and black pepper.
Step 1: Cook the couscous. If you haven’t already, cook the couscous according to the package instructions.
Step 2: Chop the veggies. Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes, chop the zucchini, dice the bell pepper, and dice the red onion.
Step 3: Make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, honey, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Step 4: Toss everything together. Once the couscous is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl along with the chopped veggies, feta cheese, and basil. Pour the dressing over top and toss to combine. Enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- Consider cooking the couscous in vegetable broth instead of water to infuse it with extra flavor.
- After cooking couscous, ALWAYS fluff it up with a fork to help break up the clumps and give it a light and fluffy texture.
The couscous salad can be served right after it’s assembled, but the flavors get so much better after letting it chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This gives the ingredients more time to meld and mingle.
How do you cook couscous?
Always refer to the package instructions before cooking the couscous. Otherwise, it’s a fairly simple process: (1) Boil some water or broth in a pot, then (2) add the couscous and immediately remove the pot from the heat. (3) Give it a quick stir, place a lid on the pot, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
What else can you add to vegetable couscous salad?
In addition to tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, and red onion, you can add diced cucumber, shredded carrots, chickpeas, sliced black olives, or avocado. Consider sprinkling in some toasted almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds for some crunch.
Can I make this with roasted vegetables instead?
What goes well with couscous salad?
There are endless main dishes that pair well with this refreshing and filling couscous salad. For a Mediterranean feast, pair it with Greek chicken meatballs, baked Mediterranean cod, or air fryer lamb chops!
Want to turn this recipe into a meal? Give it a boost of protein by tossing the salad with shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, steak bites, baked salmon, canned tuna, and so on. For plant-based options, use crispy tofu or any type of beans, lentils, nuts, or seeds you love.
Make ahead: You can cook the couscous, chop the vegetables, and make the dressing 1 day in advance. Toss everything together 30 to 60 minutes before serving, then keep it in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
Refrigerator: Store the leftover vegetable couscous in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
More picnic-ready side dishes
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For the dressing:
- If you haven’t already, cook the couscous according to the package instructions.
- Meanwhile, prep the veggies: chop and/or dice the tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, and onion and set aside.
- Next, make the dressing: whisk the olive oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, honey, and black pepper together in a small bowl.
- Once the couscous is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl, then add the prepared vegetables, along with the feta and basil.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Enjoy!