There comes a point in every adult’s life when knowing how to cook becomes a necessity. For many people, this time comes in college when our parents aren’t around to cook for us anymore. However, I’m in my 30s and I know a few people who are just learning to cook for the first time. If you’re beginning your journey into cooking, welcome to the party! Speaking of parties, you might be invited to one or two this summer as we begin seeing friends and family again. You’re not going to want to arrive empty handed. If you can boil a pot of water, you can make this Potluck Mediterranean Couscous Salad.
Okay, I lied. You have to do more than boil water. There’s a lot of chopping to be done, but I believe in you. Invest in a solid chef’s knife and have it sharpened regularly. It makes the job so much easier. My knife is the most used tool in my kitchen! This Potluck Mediterranean Couscous Salad is brimming with ingredients commonly found in cuisine enjoyed along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, you can easily find them here, too. Chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, parsley, arugula and couscous join forces for an easy-to-make and crowd-pleasing potluck dish. You can easily make this salad gluten-free by using quinoa instead of couscous.
In winter I love adding roasted chickpeas to my salads and bowls. They offer such a good crunch! Unfortunately, I won’t be turning on my oven anytime soon, and I’m guessing you won’t be either. Drained and rinsed chickpeas right from the can instantly boost the fiber and protein content of any salad, including this one. No cooking required! Add them to a large bowl along with the chopped veggies and herbs while the couscous cooks in the background. Pro tip: toasting the couscous in garlicky oil before adding the vegetable broth brings out a delicious nutty flavor that really elevates the dish.
This Potluck Mediterranean Couscous Salad can easily be scaled up depending on how large of a crowd you’re expecting. This recipe can comfortably feed six to eight adults as a small side dish. It also packs well as a make-ahead weekday lunch!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups pearled couscous
- 1¾ cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup red onion, diced
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1½ cups cucumber, chopped
- 2 big handfuls of arugula (about 4 ounces)
- Fresh dill, for serving
- Squeeze of lemon juice
For the dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Few twists of black pepper
- Warm the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the couscous and toast the grains, stirring frequently, until light golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the vegetable broth into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Season the couscous with salt and black pepper and set it aside to cool. If the couscous sticks together, add a swirl of olive oil and stir to break up the individual pearls.
- Meanwhile, dice the red onion and scoop the pieces into a bowl. Fill with cold water and allow the onion to soak while you prep the rest of the veggies, at least 10 minutes.
- Combine the chickpeas, parsley, red bell pepper, cucumber, and cooled couscous in a large serving bowl. Drain the water from the red onion and add the onion to the salad.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Drizzle the salad with half of the dressing and toss to coat the chickpeas, veggies, and couscous. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, add the arugula to the salad and toss with the remaining dressing. Top with fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- If you’d rather set your contribution on the food table and forget it, use kale instead of arugula. Add it to the salad along with the chopped veggies and dressing ahead of time – it’ll hold up even after a few hours in the fridge.
- Make this salad gluten-free by using quinoa instead of couscous.