If you invited me to a BBQ, it’s almost guaranteed I’d bring this green couscous salad. Past and future BBQ-inviters can, or will, attest to this.
I first had a version of this salad when my sister in law made it a few years ago and I still refer to it as her salad by name, as in: her name’s green couscous. But in the interest of some anonymity for others I mention on here, let’s call it C-John’s green couscous. C-John’s initial recipe came from Yotam Ottolenghi’s gorgeous cookbook, Plenty. I know she has now adapted Yotam’s recipe for herself though, as have I. C-John normally uses a bigger pearl couscous and in Australia, I use a normal sized couscous, but in wholegrain form. It’s delicious with the pearl couscous and I like the health benefits of the wholegrain, but it’s also great with a basic couscous like I have used in this recipe.
Strangely enough in Singapore I have been able to find a wholegrain pearl couscous, but not normal pearl cous cous or normal wholegrain couscous. Confused? Instant, or quick cook, couscous is the way to go if you are making this for the first time as it’s easy to find and so easy to cook.
The salad can be eaten hot or cold. I normally serve it room temperature and often if there are leftovers, Key will heat some up quickly in the microwave before eating it.
It’s really versatile and you can add and subtract ingredients with ease. This recipe is what I consider the base or the essentials but play with the herbs and add in what you like. I also like to sometimes add in steamed broccoli or zucchini, chopped green chilli, capers or sometimes I will change up the nuts.
Fun fact: I always thought it was cous cous (2 words) but when researching for this, I realized it was actually couscous (1 word)
If you aren’t sure if you are buying instant or quick couscous, check the cooking instructions on the label. If you need to boil the couscous in water or stock, it’s not instant and can’t be cooked the way described in this recipe. Cooking non-instant couscous is no harder than boiling pasta though, so give it a go if that’s all you can find.
You can just use all boiling water to cook the couscous or part stock and water like this recipe. Try and get low salt stock or even better, no-salt home made stock. If you can’t get no-salt stock, reduce the amount of salt you add. You can adjust it after it’s all put together if necessary.
Make sure you cover the couscous really well as you cook it with the boiling liquid. Use a plate if your bowl has flat edges or wedge a smaller saucepan lid in there like I do.
You don’t have to have super knife skills. Just chop your herbs as fine as you can and they will break down even more once they hit the warm couscous and the dressing.
Don’t worry if your onions burn a little. That is exactly what you are after! They impart sweetness to the salad and are a must have.
Break up and fluff the couscous a bit after it’s cooked and before placing the rest of the ingredients into it.
When we first got here, I couldn’t find a lemon juicer anywhere. Luckily mum brought one for me on my last trip home. I just squeeze the lemon with my hand if I need a small amount, but if I need all of the juice I use this. It also makes sure no pips get into the juice. A basic and cheap tool, but something I use all of the time.
Use the white and as much of the green part of the spring onion as possible.
This makes a big batch and is enough for a shared salad at a BBQ of say 6-8 people depending on portion sizes. So if you do plan to make it just for a smaller meal, make sure you reduce it or you will be eating green couscous for days afterwards.
In saying that, it does last much longer in the fridge than normal dressed salads. In a sealed container, it will last in the fridge for at least 4 days.
Green Couscous Salad
Ingredients – Serves 6-8 as a side salad
- ½ cup no-salt chicken stock
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1½ cups of instant or quick cooking couscous
- ½ large brown onion, sliced
- 3 tbs lemon juice
- 3 spring onions, white and green parts sliced
- 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs finely chopped mint
- 2 tbs finely chopped dill
- 2 tbs finely chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup of crumbled or cubed feta
- Freshly cracked black pepper to season
- 2 tbs pine nuts
- ¼ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped. Plus a few extra for garnish
- In a small saucepan, place the stock and salt with 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil.
- Place the couscous in a large mixing bowl. When the stock and water boils, pour it over the couscous then immediately cover it tightly. Leave undisturbed for 10 minutes.
- While the couscous is cooking, heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onions on medium heat, until parts of them start to turn a dark, almost black colour.
- When 10 minutes has elapsed, remove the lid from the couscous and fluff it up with a spoon or fork. While it is still warm, stir through the lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil.
- Add both the cooked and spring onions, herbs and feta to the couscous and mix through well. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and extra salt if needed. The nuts can be stirred through now or just as you are about to serve if convenient.
- Garnish with extra pistachio nuts. Excellent served with barbecued meats or seafood.