Sun Dried Tomato Couscous Salad

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This nutritious and flavor-packed Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad combines sun-dried tomatoes, toasted almonds, cucumber, couscous, and baby spinach. This salad is dressed with a flavorful lemon vinaigrette.

Sun-dried Tomato-Couscous Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad

It’s no secret that I love adding quinoa to salads. (This Caprese Quinoa SaladThai Quinoa Salad, and this Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad are on current rotations at our house.) But, surprise! Today I’m mixing it up a bit by using couscous in place of the quinoa. This isn’t the first time I’ve shared couscous in a salad; this Greek Couscous Salad has been one of the most popular salads on the site this past year!

Apparently, I’m not the only one obsessed with a big, hearty salad! 🙂

My sister actually tried this salad at my house when I first tested it, and she couldn’t stop talking about it. She asked me for the recipe so I took a photo of my notebook with scribbled recipe notes and she re-created it the very next day for a dinner party. After getting multiple requests for the recipe, she called me and said my notebook page needed to be published ASAP and so here it is — as quick as I could get it up!

Sun-dried Tomato-Couscous Salad ingredients

Salad Ingredients

  • Couscous: One of my favorite things about couscous is how quick it is to fix. From start to finish it can be ready in 10 minutes or less! There are several different types of couscous, so you want to make sure to get the small (Moroccan) couscous so it cooks up in this short amount of time. Israeli couscous has much larger grains and takes longer to cook.
  • Baby spinach: I like to give the spinach a quick coarse chop so it integrates better with the couscous and other ingredients. Plus, it’s easier to eat!
  • Sun-dried tomatoes with herbs: These are my current favorite sun-dried tomatoes. They’re sliced (julienne cut) and packed with herbs and olive oil so they add loads of flavor to this salad without extra ingredients. I recommend avoiding the sun-dried tomatoes in a packet; look instead for the olive oil-packed tomatoes.
  • English or Persian cucumbers: They’re sometimes labeled as salad or mini cucumbers. Regular cucumbers don’t work as well because they lack flavor and are too watery.
  •  Almonds: I take sliced almonds and toast them in a skillet. It’s easy, but if you’re looking for a shortcut, you can skip the toasting step or buy candied almonds at the store. (These honey-roasted almonds are our favorite.)

Lemon vinaigrette

We dress this Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad with a light, fresh, healthy, and tangy (but slightly sweet) vinaigrette. There’s Dijon mustard, lemon juice, dried basil, vinegar, and olive oil in this one, and when all these great ingredients are combined, they pack a flavor punch! This is one of the go-to dressing recipes that I always have on hand to drizzle over salads or roasted veggies. Here are a few tips:

  • Dress to your preference. I love a generously dressed salad, but you may feel differently. Add the dressing slowly and to your personal preference. You likely won’t want the entire batch of dressing on this salad, but then again, you just might want it all! I’d rather you have more than not enough. Leftover dressing stores nicely for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. (See “quick tip” below.) 
    • We use leftover dressing over roasted vegetables, side salads, and raw garden veggies.
  • Use fresh lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice doesn’t pack the same flavor as fresh, and lemon is the main flavor here. If you’d like an even stronger lemon flavor, add some lemon zest to the dressing. 

QUICK TIP

Leftover dressing will likely separate and solidify a bit since olive oil solidifies at cold temperatures. Simply let the dressing stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then shake to re-combine– and it’s ready to use! If you don’t want extra dressing (and prefer a minimally dressed salad) feel free to make a half recipe of the dressing — it halves nicely!

Process steps: making couscous and adding it to chopped baby spinach

Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad Variation Ideas

This salad is so easy to customize! While I wanted to keep this recipe as basic and simple as possible, there are so many different things that could be added. Our personal two favorites are diced avocado and feta cheese.

Below are a few other ideas:

  • Add some protein: this Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad lends well to adding additional protein; I recommend leftover shredded rotisserie chicken — a lemon-herb flavored one if you can find it! A side of grilled chicken is also a great option. For a vegetarian option, try some roasted chickpeas or white beans.
  • Swap out the couscous: Try cooked and cooled quinoa instead!
  • Switch out the nuts: The almonds can be left out entirely. You could also use a different (toasted) nut instead.
  • Use fresh cherry tomatoes: Halved cherry tomatoes will work great, either in addition to or instead of the sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Add more veggies: If you want even more toppings, add in some more veggies. Some ideas include Kalamata or black olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, chopped green bell pepper, and pepperoncini.

Process shots: toasting almonds and making the dressing. Adding couscous, veggies and dressing to the salad

Sun Dried Tomato Couscous Salad FAQs

1What is couscous?

If you aren’t familiar with couscous, it is a tiny ground pasta made from semolina wheat and mixed with water. While most other kinds of pasta are mixed with water and eggs and formed into sheets, couscous is made by rubbing semolina between wet hands until tiny pieces are formed. That couscous is then dried and you can later cook it in boiling water! Cool right?!

There are also different kinds of couscous — Israeli couscous (still a type of pasta) has granules that are much larger (think the size of a small pearl; that couscous is used in this Italian couscous salad!) For this recipe, we’re using regular (Moroccan) couscous.

2How do you make a couscous salad?

  1. Start by making the couscous. Couscous takes mere minutes to make! You’ll start with boiling water (1 cup of dry couscous gets boiled in 1 and 1/2 cups water). Once the water is boiling, you’ll add in some salt and oil or butter (if desired).
  2. Next, you’ll add the couscous to the boiling water, give it a stir, cover the pot with the lid, and remove it from heat. That couscous will steam for 5 minutes and then it will be ready! Once it’s steamed, you can fluff it with a fork and then chill it for the couscous salad. I like putting it in the fridge while I prepare all the veggies.
  3. While the couscous is chilling, you can chop the sun-dried tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach for this couscous salad! You can also toast the nuts (if you’d like).
  4. The last step is the simple dressing. Add everything to a Mason jar, shake to combine, and it’s ready to go!

3Is couscous better for you than rice?

From solely a calorie perspective: One cup of prepared regular couscous has 176 calories and there are about 210 calories in white rice. There are 222 calories in one cup of prepared quinoa. Beyond calories, there are many various health benefits for all three options to consider. In this couscous salad, you can use regular couscous, whole wheat couscous, or quinoa interchangeably!

4Is couscous healthier than pasta?

Couscous is technically a type of pasta.

5What is couscous salad made of?

Typically couscous salad includes veggies, maybe a protein, and a dressing.

6What goes well with couscous?

Fresh salad ingredients of course! The sun-dried tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach pair incredibly well with cooled couscous.

Here are some other recipes that use couscous:

Sun-dried Tomato-Couscous Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad Storage

Once dressed, this salad doesn’t store well. The dressing wilts the spinach, bloats the couscous, and softens the almonds. I recommend only dressing what you will enjoy the same day.

Store dressing and salad separately, combining them right before enjoying.

More Salad Recipes:

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Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad

5 from 1 vote
This nutritious and flavor-packed Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad combines sun-dried tomatoes, toasted almonds, cucumber, couscous, and baby spinach and is dressed with a flavorful lemon vinaigrette.
Print Recipe

Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad

5 from 1 vote
This nutritious and flavor-packed Sun-Dried Tomato-Couscous Salad combines sun-dried tomatoes, toasted almonds, cucumber, couscous, and baby spinach and is dressed with a flavorful lemon vinaigrette.
Course Salad
Cuisine Healthy
Keyword couscous salad, Sun Dried Tomato Couscous Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 488kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $7.54

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (180g) regular couscous Note 1
  • 3/4 cup (113g) packed sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped Note 2
  • 2 cups (240g) Persian/salad cucumbers, coined and halved (~4 cucumbers) Note 3
  • 1 bag (6 oz. 170g) baby spinach, coarsely chopped (~6 cups)
  • 1/3 cup (32g) toasted almonds
  • Optional: feta cheese

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup (54g) red wine vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (25g) Dijon mustard (don't use regular mustard)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (112g) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (17g) honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

Instructions

  • COUSCOUS: Prepare the couscous according to package directions; don't forget to add the suggested amount of salt! Fluff with a fork and then place in the fridge to cool.
  • VEGGIE PREP: Meanwhile, prep the veggies. Coarsely chop the sun-dried tomatoes, coin and halve the cucumbers, and coarsely chop the spinach (discard large stems).
  • OPTIONAL -- TOAST ALMONDS: Add the sliced almonds in a single layer to a completely dry skillet (don't add any oil) and place on medium-high heat. Stir the nuts every 15 seconds for about 1-3 minutes or until the color slightly darkens and they start to smell good. Watch these carefully as they can go from perfectly toasted to burned quickly!
  • DRESSING: In a large Mason jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Season to taste with salt (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Place the lid on the jar and shake to combine. Store dressing in the fridge until ready to dress the salad. Shake again before dressing the salad.
  • ASSEMBLY: Add the spinach to a large bowl, add the cooled couscous on top, and toss the two together. Add in the tomatoes, cucumbers, and toasted almonds. Gently toss everything to combine. Add the dressing (to desired preference, you may not want it all) and toss again to coat everything. If desired, add feta cheese. Serve immediately.
  • STORAGE: If you aren't eating this salad all in one sitting and want leftovers, only add almonds and dressing to what will be eaten. This salad doesn't sit well once dressed.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Couscous: There are several different types of couscous, so you want to make sure to get the small (Moroccan) couscous so it cooks up in this short amount of time.
Note 2: Tomatoes: These are my current favorite sun-dried tomatoes. They’re sliced (julienne cut) and packed with herbs and olive oil so they add loads of flavor to this salad without extra ingredients. I recommend avoiding the sun-dried tomatoes in a packet; look instead for the olive oil-packed tomatoes.
Note 3: Cucumbers: English or Persian cucumbers: These are also sometimes labeled as salad/mini cucumbers. Regular cucumbers don’t work as well because they lack flavor and are too watery.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 762mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 483IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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A delicious, flavor packed, and healthy couscous salad with sun dried tomatoes, toasted almonds, and cucumber dressed in a flavorful lemon vinaigrette via chelseasmessyapron.com #salad #couscous #healthy #spinach #easy #lemon #dressing #quick #simple #summer #potluck #mealprep #best
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5 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to make this for lunches! I always have quinoa on hand in the pantry so I’ll probably use that. I’m on a big sun-dried tomato kick lately too! YUM 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for dinner. My wide and I loved it. Simple and can be served as a side or a salad, quite refreshing. Go easy on the dressing.

  3. Hi! Can I make this a day in advance, without adding dressing or almonds. Or will cucumbers and spinach get watery?

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