Now that it’s becoming late summer, I’m starting to wonder if a year-round indoor herb garden is possible. I love having a ton of fresh herbs right outside my door, and I’m really going to miss them when they’re gone, especially when I’m styling (and eating) something as herb-heavy as this summer couscous salad! They’re so delicious and oh so PRETTY. I often get asked about my food photography/styling tips and my best tip is always: Whatever dish you have, smother it in herbs!
Aside from lots of fresh thyme and basil, this couscous salad recipe is all about the tomatoes. I slow roast half of them and put the other half raw into the salad. Together, the raw and roasted cherry tomatoes make this a sweet, tangy, bursty, crunchy, herb-y gem of a late-summer salad.
Israeli Couscous Salad Recipe Ingredients
I’ve mentioned the tomatoes and the herbs, but here’s a complete picture of the ingredients that make this couscous salad one of our late summer favorites:
- Cherry tomatoes: The combination of roasted tomatoes and raw tomatoes create wonderful texture and flavor.
- Israeli couscous: I love the large pearls of Israeli couscous in this salad.
- Roasted chickpeas: These provide protein and a nice crisp bite. Roast them ahead of time if you like!
- A pinch of smoked paprika: This smoky spice highlights the sweet tomatoes.
- Olive oil & lemon juice: There’s no need to make a separate salad dressing when you have these two ingredients.
- Garlic: Because tomatoes love it.
- Fresh herbs: We all love the combination of tomatoes and basil, but the addition of fresh thyme takes this over the top.
- Cucumbers: These add a fresh, crisp element to the salad.
- Feta cheese: I love feta’s creamy, salty bite! Skip it if you’re vegan.
How to Make This Couscous Salad
Before you toss this salad together, you need to roast your tomatoes and chickpeas and cook your pearl couscous!
Roasted cherry tomatoes are easy to make, but it takes a while for them to shrivel in the oven and become all jammy and concentrated. I suggest making them ahead of time – they can sit at room temp until you’re ready to assemble the salad. When you come home… have a glass of wine, cook your couscous, check your email… do anything besides stare at the oven waiting for your tomatoes. They’ll be done in no time and your kitchen will smell amazing.
Once your tomatoes, roasted chickpeas, and couscous are ready, toss everything together in a big bowl. Top with an abundance of fresh herbs and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Serve this couscous salad as a side dish with a protein if you like, or just on its own (chickpeas = protein).
This is also a great recipe to pack for lunch. On day 2, I like to add a little bit more lemon and an extra pinch of salt.
If you love this couscous salad recipe…
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes, (half for roasting, half raw)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 cup dry Israeli couscous
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, more if desired
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme, more for garnish
- ¼ cup fresh basil, more for garnish
- 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roast the cherry tomatoes (this step can be made in advance): Preheat the oven to 300°F. Slice 2 cups of the cherry tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkles of salt and pepper, and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast 60 to 90 minutes (the time will depend on the size and juiciness of the tomatoes), or until shriveled and browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Cook the couscous according to the package directions until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Increase the oven heat to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chickpeas on the baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkles of salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes, or until crispy. Remove from the oven and toss with the smoked paprika.
- In the bottom of a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Add the cooled couscous and toss. Slice the remaining raw cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the bowl with the roasted tomatoes, the chickpeas, basil, cucumbers, and feta. Top with more fresh herbs and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste.